Saturday evening National Hockey League action and the Metro Division will square off with the Atlantic Division as the Pittsburgh Penguins rumble with the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. The Penguins will be playing this game on no rest as they are off a game in Carolina on Friday night, while the Panthers are off a 3-2 home win over the Capitals. Goalie Probables: The Penguins will be sending out Tristan Jarry and the Panthers will counter with Roberto Luongo.
Pens Are Looking For The Top Spot In The Division
The Pittsburgh Penguins have been one of the hottest teams in the league over the last month or so and now have a chance to overtake the Capitals from the top spot in the Metro Division. They have a game in Carolina and will enter that game having won 15 of their last 19 to move to within just one point of division-leading Washington. A win in that game or a win in this one could give them the lead in the division and if they win both, then they will definitely be in the lead. The Pens have really been strong on offense of late as they have averaged 4.40 gpg over their last 10 games, but they have been no slouch at the other end as they have allowed just 2.60 gpg over the same stretch. Leading the team in scoring this year has been Evgeni Malkin, with 33 goals, while Phil Kessel is 2nd with 24 and 3rd is Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby, who both have 19. Malkin has really been the catalyst of late as he has 19 goals and 32 points over his last 21 games. The Penguins have gone 12-18 on the road and they have averaged 2.63 gpg and have allowed 3.10 gpg in those games.
Tristan Jarry is slated to get the start in this one and he has gone 10-6 with a 2.41 GAA and a .921 save percentage on the year, including 4-4 with a 1.97 GAA and a .939 save percentage on the road. He is 4-0 with a 2.42 GAA against the Atlantic Division in his career but would be facing the Panthers for the first time. Matt Murray may get the nod here and he has gone 22-14 with a 2.86 GAA and a .908 save percentage on the year overall, including 7-9 with a 3.04 GAA and a .896 save percentage on the road. In his career, he has gone 27-19 with a 2.49 GAA on the road and 18-7 with a 2.60 GAA against the Atlantic Division, while against the Panthers he has gone 3-0 with a 2.34 GAA.
The Penguins have been good on offense so far as they come in ranked 7th in the league in scoring at 3.16 gpg, while also ranking 5th in shots taken (34.1 spg) and 1st in power play conversions, converting on 26.5% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice, they have been below average as they come in ranked 17th in goals allowed, giving up 2.92 gpg, while also ranking 9th in shots allowed (31.1 spg) and 9th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 17.6% of their chances.
Panthers Stun Caps With Two Late Goals
The Florida Panthers still have a shot at the playoffs as they are now just five points out of the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference standings after taking down the Washington Capitals by a score of 3-2 on Thursday night. The Caps had a 2-1 lead enter the 3rd period, but the Panthers notched two goals in the final 3:32 of the game. The first was at the 16:18 mark of the 3rd and it was Nick Bjugstad’s 11th of the year and then the Panthers got a goal from Vincent Trocheck with just 20 seconds left in the game to give the Panthers a stunning win over the Capitals. It was his 23rd of the year. Also scoring in the win was Maxim Mamin, which was the first of his career. Can the Panthers pull off another stunner in this one? We shall see. The Panthers have gone 14-12 here at home for the year and they have averaged 3.15 gpg and have allowed 3.19 gpg in those games.
Grabbing the win against the Capitals was Roberto Luongo, who stopped 33 of the 35 shots that he faced to move to 8-8 with a 2.51 GAA and a .930 save percentage on the year, including 4-3 with a 2.78 GAA and a .929 save percentage here at home. In his career. He has gone 272-238 with a 2.39 GAA in his home games and 30-26 with a 2.53 GAA against the Metro Division, while against the Penguins he has gone 14-16 with a 2.88 GAA.
Florida has been below average on offense so far as they come into this ranked 15th in the league in scoring at 2.88 gpg, while also ranking 2nd in shots taken (34.6 spg) and 17th in power play conversions, converting on 19.8% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice, they have been poor as they come in ranked 26th in goals allowed, giving up 3.21 gpg, while also ranking 30th in shots allowed (34.6 spg) and 22nd in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 20.8% of their chances.
- 95-44 in their last 139 vs. the Eastern Conference
- 61-30 in their last 91 vs. a team with a losing record
- 2-6 in their last eight vs. a team with a winning record
The Panthers have their number one goalie back in the crease, but will it be enough to slow down the red-hot Penguins? The Panthers have gone 8-3 in their last 11 games, but just two of those eight wins have come against teams that would be in the playoffs if they started today, while two of their three losses have come against teams that will be in the postseason. The Penguins are playing this game on no rest, but they have gone 6-1 in their last seven in that spot and they come in having won 15 of their last 19 (Pending Friday night). I look for Pittsburgh to take this game and the clincher is the fact that the Penguins have won 22 of the last 29 games in this series.