PENGUINS (30-10-0) at LIGHTNING (17-20-2)
TV: NBCSN, TSN, ROOT
Last 10: Pittsburgh 8-2-0, Tampa Bay 4-5-1
Season Series: This is the third of three meetings. The Pittsburgh Penguins are 2-0-0 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, with both victories coming in regulation.
Big Story: Many are speculating the return of defenseman Kris Letang, suffering from a lower-body injury. Letang, the Penguins’ top defenseman, last played on March 26 against the Montreal Canadiens. He has 28 points (three goals, 25 assists) in 28 games this season.
Penguins: Once again, the Penguins are finding ways to win with injuries to key players such as Letang, captain Sidney Crosby, top winger James Neal and defenseman Paul Martin. With a come-from-behind win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday, Pittsburgh was able to clinch the Atlantic Division.
“As a team, it’s always one of your goals to win the division,” said defenseman Brooks Orpik “I don’t think we’ve won [the division] since ’08-09.”
The Penguins are guaranteed either of the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference, so don’t look for them to rush stars like Crosby and Neal back into the lineup. Pittsburgh is also getting production from young players such as Beau Bennett, who made an immediate impact after spending four games in the American Hockey League by scoring the game-tying goal at Carolina.
Lightning: Tampa Bay is on a bit of a hot streak on home ice recently, going 5-0-1 in the past six. The Lightning will need their luck to continue in order to make the playoffs. Right now, the Bolts are eight points behind the eighth-place New York Rangers.
Who's hot: Recently-acquired Brenden Morrow has a goal and an assist in the past three games for Pittsburgh. … Lightning winger Martin St. Louis recorded his 900th NHL point on Monday and is third in the League in scoring this season with 49 points (nine goals, 40 assists). He has a goal and five assists in the past four games.
Injury report: Crosby (jaw) will continue to sit alongside Neal (concussion) and Martin (hand). Letang is day-to-day. … Lightning goalie Anders Lindback (ankle) and defenseman Victor Hedman (lower body) will both be out of the lineup.
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