Penguins (45-25-8, 98 pts) @ Panthers (29-37-12, 70 pts)
Despite losing two straight games, the Philadelphia Flyers remain in striking distance for the Pittsburgh Penguins. A longshot to say the least but Pittsburgh only trails Philadelphia by four points and each team has 4 games remaining.
The Penguins have a favorable schedule the rest of the way with games against non-playoff teams Florida, New Jersey, New York Islanders and the Atlanta Thrashers.
However, the Penguins worries is not catching Philadelphia but holding off the Tampa Bay Lightning for the No.4 seed in the East.
In reality the division title is not that important but what’s important is for the Penguins to gain some momentum going into the playoffs. Right now they have none.
— Tonight against the Florida Panthers is a good opportunity for Brent Johnson (11-5-3) to get the start in goal. Johnson is 5-1 in his last 6 starts against the Panthers.
Pittsburgh in fact has won three straight against Florida and 6 of 7 games.
Marc Andre Fleury has made 5 straight starts in goal for Pittsburgh and Johnson is under consideration to start tonight.
The Panthers have lost a season worst seven straight and has scored just six goals in its last six games. The Panthers have been held to two goals or fewer in 15 of their last 20, going 4-11-5, during that span.
A low scoring game could be in the works tonight. The team’s played to a 2-1 Penguins shootout win last Sunday and the Penguins also can’t put the puck in the net.
The Penguins have scored just 6 goals in their last 5 games and their meager power play is in a 3-for-64 funk. The Panthers have an excellent penalty kill at 85.6%.
*Arron Asham will not be available tonight due to a lower body injury. He did not practice on Friday.
*With Asham on the shelf, Mike Comrie is getting his audition to get into the lineup for the playoffs. Comrie though hasn’t been able to do much in his limited role. He has 0 points in 3 games since returning to the lineup, playing a 4th line role.
He had just 7:48 of ice time against Tampa Bay on Thursday night.
*Defenseman Deryk Engelland has been a healthy scratch for 3 straight games.
*Winger Alex Kovalev is on a 3 game points streak.
*Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun will play and Stephen Weiss is out of the lineup due to a groin injury.