The Pittsburgh Penguins are the hot topic of the hockey world right now and it’s not only about their thirteen-game winning streak. The team acquired star forward Jarome Iginla from the Calgary Flames for collegiate prospects Kenny Agostino and Ben Hanowski in addition to a first-round draft pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. This big trade comes only a few days after the Penguins acquired physical forward Brenden Morrow and physical defenseman Douglas Murray. While there is room for plenty of excitement in Pittsburgh at the moment, there is an important game tonight for the Penguins against the Winnipeg Jets at the CONSOL Energy Center.
The Jets have been playing well as of late as they come into Pittsburgh with a 6-3-1 record in their last ten games. Their 18-14-2 record (38 points) is the best in the Southeast Division by 6 points. Therefore, they currently hold the third seed in the Eastern Conference.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh will look to win their 14th game in a row as they get closer and closer to the 17-game winning streak the 1992-93 Penguins put together, which is an NHL record. They may receive a big player back tonight as Evgeni Malkin will be a game-time decision. He has been in that position the past couple of games, but Malkin took his regular line rushes and practiced on the first power play unit in the morning skate today. In addition, the team activated him off injured-reserve and sent forward Beau Bennett back to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for a few days. Bennett will rejoin the team when rosters expand on April 3rd. Malkin has been recovering from an upper-body injury that has sidelined him for the team’s past nine games. Another story to watch tonight will be Murray’s debut with the Penguins. He was asked today if he was nervous to play in his first game with his new team tonight…
“Absolutely. I’m in a new place. You want to prove to everybody you belong. Obviously, there is a little bit of nerves. It comes with the sport. It actually feels good to be a little nervous. You can create a lot of energy from that.”
NEWS AND NOTES
Since Marc-Andre Fleury will not be able to back up starting goaltender Tomas Vokoun, Jeff Zatkoff was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to fill the void. Vokoun has a 14-11-4 career record against Winnipeg/Atlanta.
Andrew Ladd, the captain of the Jets, is having a great 2013 season so far with 14 goals and 18 assists. His 32 points leads the team and ranks 16th in the NHL.
Blake Wheeler of Winnipeg is also enjoying a successful season with 14 goals and 14 assists. Wheeler and Ladd are tied for the team lead in goals.
Evander Kane is coming off one of his best performances of the season on Tuesday night when he recorded a goal and 3 assists. Therefore, he was involved in every Jets goal that night as Winnipeg defeated Carolina 4-1. Kane leads the league in shots taken with 142.
Al Montoya, who is scheduled to start in net for the Jets, has a 1-1-1 record with a 3.83 goals-against average and a .892 save-percentage in his career against the Penguins. This will only be his fifth start of the season.
Matt Cooke participated in the morning skate today unlike previous ones. Cooke had been skipping some practices because of an apparent injury, but has not missed any games.
Former Penguins forward Eric Tangradi will play tonight in Pittsburgh for the first time as a Jet. Tangradi has continue to struggle in Winnipeg after the Penguins traded him there. He has recorded one goal and one assist in 22 games with the Jets.
The Penguins have a 22-2-1 record in their past 25 home games against the Southeast Division , which includes a 5-0 mark this season at the CONSOL Energy Center.
Pittsburgh has been stepping up on defense lately as they have only given up nine goals in their last nine games.
Tonight’s meeting between the two teams will be the last one of the regular season. The two teams split the first two meetings as Winnipeg was victorious in the first game by the score of 4-2 while the Penguins won the second game 3-1.
With a win tonight, the Penguins would tie a franchise record with 11 straight wins at home. The current record was set in 1991.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
PENGUINS: Evgeni Malkin
Since Malkin was activated off the injured reserve tonight, he will most likely make his return to the lineup after missing nine games with an upper-body injury. It could not be better timing as Malkin has dominated the Jets franchise in his career. In 24 games against them, Malkin has recorded 40 points (13 goals and 27 assists). Morrow’s presence on the line will also give Malkin and James Neal more space to work with and could pay big dividends for the Penguins tonight.
JETS: Evander Kane
Vokoun will probably be seeing a good amount of rubber coming at him from Kane, who has 142 shots on goal this season, which is the most in the NHL. Kane, 21, started to show some signs of improvement in the team’s last game against Carolina where he contributed on each of the Jets’ goals (1 goal and 3 assists) after going scoreless in the team’s previous three games. He has recorded 2 goals and 5 assists in 12 career games against the Penguins.
PROBABLE JETS LINES
PROBABLE PENGUINS LINES
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