Pittsburgh Penguins (40-23-5-85pts) @ Tampa Bay Lightning (28-27-12-68pts)
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning meet for the third time this afternoon. The Penguins are 1-1 against Tampa Bay this season, losing to the Lightning 3-1 on Jan. 2nd in Tampa Bay.
In the midst of a two game losing streak, head coach Dan Bylsma will make at least one lineup change.
Winger Tyler Kennedy will return to the lineup after being scratched for the past two games, according to a source on the scene
With Kennedy returning to the lineup, based on the morning skate, Michael Rupp is expected to be scratched.
What to Watch For
1. Lightning in battle for playoff spot: The Tampa Bay Lightning are fighting for their playoff lives, four points behind the Boston Bruins for the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference.
Pittsburgh’s last game in Tampa Bay was one they would like to forget. Pittsburgh was badly outplayed in a 3-1 defeat on January 2nd.
The Lightning are very good at home, posting a 18-8-6 record.
2. The emergence of Steven Stamkos: The 20 year old center is on the verge of joining Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin among the games elite players.
Stamkos is coming off a career best 18 game point streak, recording 33 points during that span and he maybe the second best pure goal scorer in the NHL behind Alexander Ovechkin.
Stamkos is 3rd in the NHL in goals (42) and 5th in points (80). Linemate Martin St. Louis leads the Lightning with 81 points.
3. Penguins power play: The Penguins were 0-for-5 on the power play against the New Jersey Devils and they continue to come up empty on the man-advantage in big games.
Look for the coaching staff to use a number of different looks with Bill Guerin, Alex Ponikarovsky and Chris Kunitz rotating down low, Alex Goligoski and Kris Letang rotating at the left point.
4. No Ryan Malone: Lightning winger Ryan Malone will be out of the Lineup for the 3rd time in four games. Malone who is 4th on the team with 21 goals and 44 points has been bothered by a lower body injury and only has two goals in his last 27 games.
5. Line Juggling: With Tyler Kennedy returning to the lineup, more line juggling is expected from the Penguins coaching staff. Based on the morning skate, Kennedy is going to see time on the 4th line with Craig Adams and Max Talbot.
Penguins Projected Lineup
Kunitz – Crosby – Guerin
Ponikarovsky – Malkin – Fedotenko
Cooke – Staal – Dupuis
Talbot – Adams – Kennedy
Orpik – Letang
Eaton – Gonchar
Goligoski – Leopold
*Marc Andre Fleury will start in goal