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Behind Enemy Lines: Penguins Try to Keep Even with Columbus

The Pens look to try to match the red-hot pace of the Blue Jackets with a win against Carolina.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguins find themselves in a heated battle for the Metropolitan Division lead. Though they have won two straight games, they find themselves one point behind the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are on a 13 game win streak, for the division lead. The good news, such as it is given that the Penguins and Blue Jackets are in the same division, is that the Pens are still second in the NHL standings.

Pittsburgh had a unique home and home series with the Devils, playing once going into the Christmas break and once yesterday coming out of the break. The Pens were successful in both games winning by a combined score of 9-3, dominating the Devils offensively and defensively.

Entering the season the Penguins had the most intriguing goaltending duo in the league. Matt Murray is technically a rookie, but his play helped the team win the Stanley Cup. His backup during this run was Marc-Andre Fleury, the starter during their last Stanley Cup winning season and through the last eight seasons.

In October the team signed Murray to a three-year extension that pays him $3.75 million per season. This move goes a long way to secure the youngster's position on the team and also shows the intention that Fleury is on his way out. Despite this, the team has played both goalies equally with Fleury playing 22 games and Murray playing 18.

No matter who has been playing in net the Pens haven’t had a hard time winning. Entering Wednesday night’s matchup the Pens are 7-1-2 in their last ten games.

Game Notes:

  • The Penguins are playing their second game in two nights. In these back to back games, the Pens have been vulnerable to leaving points on the table, earning a record of 2-1-3.
  • Pittsburgh enjoys home cooking. The Pens have a record of 7-0-1 in the month of December and 15-2-1 overall. You have to go back to November 21st to find the last time the Pens lost in regulation on home ice.
  • Sidney Crosby is on a tear, with 25 goals in 30 games this season. He is currently on pace for 64 goals, which would be the most in the NHL since Alex Ovechkin scored 65 in 2008-09. Last night Crosby had one goal and two assists including setting up an Evgeni Malkin goal which turned out to be his 800th career point.
  • With Fleury playing last night, it will almost certainly be Murray’s turn between the pipes tonight. Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, Murray has been the better of the two goalies. Murray’s .928 Sv% is sixth best in the Metro, 2.3% better than teammate Fleury.