After a rough loss last night to the Florida Panthers—the 4-1 score, which included a pair of empty-net goals against, wasn’t fully reflective of the Preds’ play, but a 2-1 loss wouldn’t have been wholly off the mark—the Nashville Predators head back out on the road, taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Penguins are third in the Metropolitan right now and looking to secure or improve their place, but have lost four straight and five of their last six since an 11-2 beatdown of the Detroit Red Wings on March 27. Since goals aren’t actually a rationed quantity, it’s not safe to assume that they used their goals up in that Red Wings game; this is the team that’s done that. They can and will score.
As usual, almost none of the Penguins’ best players have been healthy for the whole season; Sidney Crosby has missed about a fifth of it, and Bryan Rust a third, while Evgeni Malkin has only played half. The fact that Rust is still the Penguins’ fourth-leading scorer, with 58 points (in 51 games), is testament to how much he should not be overlooked—and the same for Malkin, whose 37 points were earned in 36 games.
Crosby is the Penguins’ leading scorer, as is usual when all his limbs are attached, with 72 points, but Jake Guentzel is just behind him with 71. Guentzel leads the team in goals with 33, trailed by Crosby (26) and Rust (24). Kris Letang has 61 points and a team-leading 54 assists, trailed by Crosby (46) and Guentzel (38).
These numbers could, unsettlingly, be higher: barnburners aside, the Penguins have struggled to convert on their shots this season, despite playing good offense both 5v5 and on the power play. While their power play has been a little above-average, their power-play offense has absolutely piled on, without as much to show for it as there should be. The Predators should work hard to stay out of the box tonight.
Defensively, things look better for the Penguins: they’ve combined solid 5v5 and shorthanded defense with good goaltending—courtesy of Tristan Jarry, who’s posted a .919 sv% on the season, and one-game backup Louis Domingue. Regular backup Casey DeSmith has had a weaker season than Jarry, but still delivers the Penguins wins and standings points with the help of his defense and the goal support he’s gotten.
There remain no snacks in the sin bin.
How to Watch
The game starts at 3 PM Central and will air nationally on TNT and locally on 102.5 The Game.