Game 79: Penguins Vs. Panthers Preview
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SUNRISE, Fla. (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Penguins have four games left in the regular season and will be looking to snap a two-game skid tonight against the Florida Panthers.
Pittsburgh is currently four points behind the Philadelphia Flyers in the race for the Atlantic Division crown. The Flyers are also riding a two-game losing streak after beating the Penguins 5-2 on Tuesday.
The Penguins are coming off a 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, despite dominating the final two periods of play.
Dwayne Roloson made 36 saves, including 30 over the final two periods, to preserve the win.
The Penguins can keep their division title hopes alive with a win over the Panthers tonight.
In their most recent meeting on March 27, the Penguins earned a 2-1 shootout victory. Marc-Andre Fleury stole the show by turning aside 37 shots and stoning the only two shooters he faced in the shootout.
Alex Kovalev and James Neal scored in the shootout to give the Penguins their NHL-record fourth straight shootout win.
A win today would give the Penguins 100 points for the season and would complete a regular season sweep of the Panthers.
The Panthers are led by Stephen Weiss with 49 points (21 goals, 28 assists). David Booth leads the team in goals (22), but is a minus-28 for the year.
Tomas Vokoun had to be replaced after regulation in the March 27 game because of a back problem. Scott Clemmensen came on and took the loss.
Vokoun (21-28-5, 2.60 GAA, .921 save percentage) is listed as day-to-day and his status for tonight’s game is uncertain.
Should he be unable to play, Clemmensen (8-8-7, 2.49 GAA, .915 save percentage) would likely get the nod between the pipes.
Against the Penguins, Clemmensen is 4-4-2 with a 2.47 GAA and .898 save percentage.
For Pittsburgh, the good news surrounding Sidney Crosby continues to pour in.
Earlier this week, Crosby was cleared to return to the team’s morning skates on game days. While he continues to progress, he has not yet been cleared for contact practices at this time.
General Manager Ray Shero has said that they do not expect Crosby to return in the regular season and that there is no timetable in place for him at this time.
As for the players currently in the lineup, Tyler Kennedy is continuing to add to a career-year. His 19 goals and 22 assists are both career-highs, as are the six goals and six assists he’s registered on the power play. His previous bests came back in 2008-09 when he had 15 goals and 20 assists.
Earlier this week, Head Coach Dan Bylsma said that Brent Johnson (11-5-3, 2.19 GAA, .920 save percentage) will get at least one more start this season, but did not indicate when that would happen.
Historically speaking, Johnson has performed quite well against the Panthers in his career. He’s appeared in 15 games against Florida and holds a 9-3-1 record with a 2.30 GAA and .924 save percentage with one shutout.
On the other hand, Fleury is 6-6 with a 3.10 GAA and .901 save percentage against the Panthers in his career.
The puck is set to drop at 7 p.m. and can be seen on FSN Pittsburgh.