The Pens currently hold the third place spot in the Metropolitan Division with 88 points in 73 games played. In fourth place, the Canes have 85 points in 71 games played. A win tonight for Pittsburgh could bury the Canes into a wild card spot, but a Carolina win could make things very, very interesting as the stretch run continues into late March and early April.
Both clubs are flying high at the moment, with a combined 13-4-3 record over their last ten games. Rewinding back to their two earlier matchups in the season, both clubs have earned a shutout win in the other team’s building - the Pens won 3-0 in Raleigh on December 22 and the Canes won 4-0 in the Steel City on February 5.
The Hurricanes did not skate today, but they are expected to ice the same lineup that defeated the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night by a final score of 4-2.
On the injury front, there is some good news. Calvin de Haan (eye) skated yesterday with the team. He isn’t ready to return to the lineup, but there are steps being made in the right direction in his recovery after that scary incident in Denver last week.
Here’s how the Canes lined up against the Sabres:
Nino Niederreiter - Sebastian Aho - Justin Williams
Andrei Svechnikov - Jordan Staal - Teuvo Teravainen
Micheal Ferland - Lucas Wallmark - Jordan Martinook
Warren Foegele - Greg McKegg - Brock McGinn
Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton
Brett Pesce - Justin Faulk
Haydn Fleury - Trevor van Riemsdyk
Injuries and scratches: Calvin de Haan (eye), Saku Maenalanen (healthy)
Update: Petr Mrazek will get the start for the Hurricanes tonight. Warren Foegele will be the healthy extra up front, meaning Saku Maenalanen will be in the lineup.
It was announced yesterday that Penguins star center Evgeni Malkin is out week-to-week with an upper-body injury, so the road team will have to do without a very important forward against the Hurricanes.
Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin have both gone through injury concerns lately, but it looks like both of them could play tonight. Letang is listed as a game-time decision.
Matt Murray (24-12-4, .916 save percentage) is expected to get the start for the Penguins.
Here’s how the Penguins are expected to line up at PNC Arena tonight:
Jared McCann - Sidney Crosby - Jake Guentzel
Bryan Rust - Theodore Blueger - Phil Kessel
Dominik Simon - Nick Bjugstad - Patric Hornqvist
Joseph Blandisi - Matt Cullen - Garrett Wilson
Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang
Jack Johnson - Justin Schultz
Marcus Pettersson - Erik Gudbranson
Injuries and Scratches: Evgeni Malkin (upper-body), Zach Aston-Reese (lower-body), Olli Maatta (shoulder), Chad Ruhwedel (upper-body), ( Zach Trotman (healthy), Juuso Riikola (healthy)