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Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning preview: Two struggling teams look to right the ship

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The annual slump has arrived in full force.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Pittsburgh Penguins
Jan 30, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) and Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) fight during the third period at PPG PAINTS Arena. Pittsburgh won 4-2.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning: GAME 55

Time: 7:000 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: NHLN, SUN, ATTSN-PT

Opponent SBNation Site: Pensburgh

Preview:

It’s only been five games since these two teams last met, but so many things have changed in that span. The Penguins might have stomped all over the Lightning in that one, but they’re on a three-game losing streak and have lost four of six games since their bye week ended.

The Bolts, meanwhile, have also hit a bit of a skid since returning from their break. They’ve lost three of five games, although their last four games have all been one-goal affairs. The team is struggling to find the back of the net. Tampa has been averaging over four goals a game all season, but they’ve only scored five times in their last four games. In two of those, they couldn’t score in regulation: a 1-0 shootout win and being shutout against St. Louis.

The rotation of the blueline continues. Since returning from the bye week, we saw Jon Cooper employ the following rotation of healthy scratches: Braydon Coburn, Anton Stralman, Mikhail Sergachev, Dan Girardi, and Erik Cernak. Jon Cooper looks to be shaking things up, though, because Stralman was the odd-man out at morning skate.

Pittsburgh has been hit a bit hard with the injury bug. Matt Murray missed their last game, forcing Casey DeSmith back into the starting job. Evgeni Malkin fought Steven Stamkos and hasn’t played a game since. Both Murray and Malkin were at practice yesterday, but won’t play tonight:

The Lightning’s special teams might be near the top of the league, but the Penguins are solid in that regard as well. That’s pretty impressive considering their blueline is fairly thin. While the Penguins are extremely injured, the Bolts are very healthy (knock on wood). And with Murray out, they have a huge opportunity tonight to get out of this slump.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards

Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov

Yanni Gourde - Brayden Point - Tyler Johnson

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - J.T. Miller

Adam Erne - Cedric Paquette - Mathieu Joseph

Scratched: Ryan Callahan, Danick Martel

Defense

Victor Hedman - Dan Girardi

Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak

Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev

Scratched: Anton Stralman

Goalies

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Louis Domingue

Pittsburgh Penguins

Forwards

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Nick Bjugstad

Bryan Rust - Matt Cullen - Phil Kessel

Dominik Simon - Jared McCann - Patric Hornqvist

Tanner Pearson - Teddy Blueger - Garrett Wilson

Injured: Evgeni Malkin, Zach Aston-Reese

Defense

Marcus Pettersson - Kris Letang

Brian Dumolin - Jack Johnson

Olli Maatta - Juuso Riikola

Scratched: Chad Ruhwedel

Injured: Justin Schultz

Goalies

Casey DeSmith

Tristan Jarry

Injured: Matt Murray