Game 20 Preview: Penguins Vs. Panthers
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Penguins will look to kick off a three-game road trip with a win against the Florida Panthers tonight.
This will be the second meeting between the two clubs in the past few days.
On Friday, Pittsburgh skated to a 3-1 victory, but suffered a major blow to the roster in the third period.
About five minutes into the final frame, Evgeni Malkin drove hard to the net and was knocked off his skates by Erik Gudbranson. As a result, Malkin crashed back-first into the boards.
He has since been diagnosed with a concussion and is not accompanying the Penguins on this current road trip.
The Penguins began life without Malkin on Sunday with a 5-3 win over the Lightning on Sunday.
As for the Panthers (5-9-4-14 points), they enter tonight’s game sitting in fourth place in the Southeast Division, just one point better than the Washington Capitals.
Florida has lost their last two games and are 2-4-4 over their last 10 games.
Rookie standout, Jonathan Huberdeau’s eight goals and 13 points lead the team. Tomas Fleischmann is a close second with 11 points (four goals, seven assists).
To say goaltending has been suspect for the Panthers this season would be an understatement.
Jose Theodore is 4-6-2 with a 3.37 GAA and a .893 save percentage this season and is expected to start tonight’s game. He has gone 0-3-1 in his last four starts and allowed at least three goals in three of those games.
However, Theodore has done quite well against the Penguins over the course of his career. In 29 appearances, Theodore is 20-5-3 with one tie and has a 2.31 GAA and .919 save percentage. He has also shut out the Penguins on four occasions.
For Pittsburgh, Sidney Crosby has taken his game to another level of late and is locked in a tight scoring race with Steven Stamkos.
Crosby enters tonight’s game with 28 points (nine goals, 19 assists), which is just one back of Stamkos for the league lead. The two traded the league lead when they faced off against each other on Sunday.
With Malkin out of the lineup, James Neal has been moved to Crosby’s wing with Chris Kunitz. The line appears to have generated some instant chemistry and scored twice in the first 10 minutes of play against the Lightning.
Kunitz is tied with Malkin for second on the team with 21 points, while Neal leads the team with 12 goals.
In goal, Tomas Vokoun (3-3-0, 2.87 GAA, .899 save percentage) will get to face his former team tonight. Vokoun will no doubt be looking to bounce back after a shaky performance in a 6-5 loss against the Flyers last week.
In eight appearances against the Panthers, Vokoun is 4-2-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .936 save percentage. He has also shut out the Panthers twice.
The puck is set to drop at 7:30 p.m. and you can watch it on Root Sports.
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