Pittsburgh Penguins vs Tampa Bay Lightning: Predictions, Odds and Roster Notes

How to Watch

Where: Amalie Arena – Tampa, FL.

When: Saturday, February 9, 7PM EST.

How (TV/Radio): ATT SN Pittsburgh, SunSports, NHLNetwork | WFAN

Pittsburgh Penguins (Away)

Head Coach: Mike Sullivan {All-Time 228-141-15-51 PIT, BOS}

To put it lightly, the Penguins need wins. 4-6-0 in their last ten games and on a two-game skid, the Evgeni Malkin-less Pens will need to pull it all together if they want to climb up the standings or, at the very least, hang onto the Metropolitan division’s final playoff spot. This won’t be easy to do against the first-place overall Tampa Bay Lightning. In Tampa Bay, no less.

The Penguins road record has stayed over .500 all season (currently 13-9-4) which, against most other teams, would be a promising statistic. However, the home play of the Lightning has been on the cusp of flawless this season as they possess a home record of 20-5-1.

By the numbers, Pittsburgh’s best chance comes on special teams. Tampa Bay possesses the first-overall powerplay in the league, but the Penguins respectably hold the seventh rank. The key here is to stay out of the penalty box – the Penguins are fifth in the league for taking the least amount of penalties per game. Tampa Bay is 14th. If Pittsburgh plays disciplined, then they may be the only team getting any powerplay minutes.

Goaltender Matt Murray is expected to get the start in this matchup. Murray has had a very respectable season thus far, owning a season record of 15-9-1 with a 2.97 goals against average and .909 save percentage. He has four shutouts.

With all that said, Sidney Crosby can work magic from anywhere at any given moment. Expect the Penguins captain to step-up.

Tampa Bay Lightning (Home)

Head Coach: Jon Cooper {All-Time 282-154-43 TBL}

Offensively, the lowest the Bolts rank is 11th place – in faceoff percentage. Let that sink in. They are first in goals scored, seventh in shots on goal, first on the powerplay, and first in shooting percentage. Defensively, they rank sixth in goals allowed and second on the penalty kill. Head coach Jon Cooper has a powerhouse on his hands.

The forwards are firing on all cylinders this season. Captain Steven Stamkos has 61 points in 53 games. Brayden Point has 66 points in 52 games. And Hart Trophy (league’s most valuable player) favourite Nikita Kucherov has an astounding 81 points in 53 games this season.

Usual starting goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy is expected to get the nod against the Penguins. Vasileskiy is 21-7-3 on the season with a 2.44 goals against average and .926 save percentage. He has four shutouts this season.

Back on January 30, the Pittsburgh Penguins outlasted the Tampa Bay Lightning, defeating them by a score of 4-1.

What’s At Stake?

Currently first-place in the league with a record of 39-11-3 and 81 points on the season, the Tampa Bay Lightning can afford to eat a loss here. However, don’t expect them too.

The Penguins however need to start pulling away from the wildcard conversation and work towards holding one of the three Metro division playoff spots. In a division as tight as theirs, every two points count – even if it comes in overtime, as one more point for Tampa makes little difference at this point barring a total collapse later in the season.

Questions to answer

Can the Penguins stay out of the penalty box and put their powerplay to work? Can Pittsburgh matchup during 5-on-5 play?

Can Pens’ goalie Matt Murray survive the potential offensive onslaught brought on by Tampa Bay – who are first-overall in goals for, powerplay, and shooting percentage?

So closely together when it comes to faceoffs won, will Steven Stamkos or Sidney Crosby come out on top when it comes to taking the faceoff and giving their team puck possession?

Pittsburgh Penguins Injury Report

F Evgeni Malkin – day-to-day (upper-body)

F Zach Aston-Reese – IR (fractured hand)

D Justin Schultz – IR (fractured left leg)

Tampa Bay Lightning Injury Report

None to report.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning Predictions and Odds

The Penguins are a +155 underdog against the -185 Tampa Bay Lightning.