Tampa Bay Lightning at Pittsburgh Penguins Preview and Game Day Thread

The Lightning take on yet another team fighting for their playoff lives

Tampa Bay Lightning at Pittsburgh Penguins: GAME #59

Time: 6:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: PPG Paints Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: NHLN, SNE, SNW, SNP, ATTSN-PT

Opponent SBNation Site: PensBurgh

DraftKings Odds: Lightning -1.5 O/U 6.5


The Lightning finally head into the second half of a back-to-back with a team that hasn’t been sitting around for a few days waiting for them. Yesterday afternoon the Penguins ventured out to St. Louis where they defeated the Blues, 3-2 in overtime. Sure they may have gotten to the Steel City a few hours earlier than the Lightning, but at least they played yesterday.

Tampa Bay is coming off of a 3-0 shutout of the Detroit Red Wings, but that score belies how difficult the game was. The upstart Red Wings thoroughly outplayed the Bolts for most of the night and only the confident goaltending of Andrei Vasilevskiy and timely scoring of Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov snatched victory away from defeat.

For tonight’s game the Lightning are going to have to play a more cohesive game. The offense from the Lightning never really kicked into game as Detroit shut them down in the neutral zone and harassed the puck carriers in the offensive zone. Tampa Bay’s top lines never looked comfortable as they both posted puck possession stats well below 50%.

The second line in particular struggled as they only posted 2 shot attempts while conceding 18 and were outchanced 7-0 with the Red Wings top line doing most of the damage against them.  That’s a change of pace for the Steven Stamkos line as they have been one of the better road lines for Coach Cooper this season.

As for the Penguins, the win against the Blues snapped a four-game losing streak. It’s been an up and down season for the Pens as they have had losing streaks of 6 and 7 games along with winning streaks of 5 and 7 games. They’ve run middle of the pack in both offense (3.17 goals per game is 15th) and defense (3.21 goals against per game is 19th) as injuries have plagued both the defense and goaltending.

When he’s healthy Tristan Jarry has been a true number one. The problem is that he’s only made 30 starts and just recently returned to the line-up after suffering an injury on January 22nd. Casey DeSmith (tonight’s likely starter) has posted a 10-12-4, 3.28 GA, .904 SV%, 4.33 GSAx as the primary back-up for DeSmith.

One thing to note is that the Penguins seem to be a bit snake bit when it comes to goal scoring. They have four 20+ goal scorers in Sidney Crosby (25), Jake Guentzel (24), Evgeni Malkin (22), and Rickard Rakell (21), but they’ve also only scored 184 goals against an expected goals of 207.49 according to Natural Stat Trick. Teddy Blueger is particularly snake bit as he has an iXG of 7.57 but has only found the back of the net once. Bryan Rust is generating chances to the tune of a 21.69 iXG, but has only scored 14 goals.

At some point the Penguins are hoping those chances turn into goals. They’ll need it as they are locked into a fight for a wild card spot. They currently hold the second spot, but it’s only by one point over the Sabres, Red Wings, Panthers, and Capitals. It’s unlikely they can catch the Rangers for the third spot in the Metro as they trail them by 10 points with only one game in hand. So they’ll be scrapping for every point out there.

Erik Cernak will serve the second game of his suspension for elbowing Kyle Okposo, but other than that the line-up in front of Brian Elliott should be the same as last night.

Comparison chart:

Lightning at Penguins Comparison

Game #59Tampa Bay LightningPittsburgh Penguins
Overall Record37-17-428-21-9
Home Record22-4-315-9-4
Road Record15-13-113-12-5
Goals For209185
Goals Against169187

Tampa Bay Lightning Potential Lines

Forward Lines

Brandon Hagel - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos - Alex Killorn

Ross Colton - Nick Paul - Vladislav Namestnikov

Patrick Maroon - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Zach Bogosian

Mikhail Sergachev -Nick Perbix

Ian Cole - Cal Foote


Brian Elliott

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Pittsburgh Penguins Potential Lines

Forward Lines

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Rickard Rakell

Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust

Brock McGinn - Jeff Carter - Danton Heinen

Drew O’Connor - Teddy Blueger - Josh Archibald

Defense Pairings

Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson - Jeff Petry

P.O. Joseph - Jan Rutta


Casey DeSmith

Tristan Jarry