Pittsburgh Penguins Gameday 61: Nashville Predators

Pittsburgh Penguins (40-16-4) @ Nashville Predators (26-25-10)
Root Sports, FS-TN – 8:00 pm/et 
Bridgestone Arena – Nashville, TN

The Pittsburgh Penguins visit "Smashville" on Trade Deadline Eve. Fleury is in net. "The rest of the lineup will be a game-time decision" according to the Pens' website.

For Nashville, Pekka Rinne is expected to return. It will be his first start since October 22.


Leading Scorers:

Penguins: Sidney Crosby (29G, 51A: 804P)
Predators: Shea Weber (15G, 25A: 40P)

Starting Goaltenders:

Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury (31-14-3, 2.34 GAA, .915 Sv%)
Predators: Pekka Rinne (4-4-1, 2.31 GAA, .917 Sv%)

Official Previews from Team Websites: [Penguins] [Predators]

Last Games:

Penguins: Lost to Chicago Blackhawks 5-1.
Predators: Lost to Winnipeg Jets 3-1.

Opposition Blog: [On the Forecheck]
What They're Saying: "Nashville Predators vs Pittsburgh Penguins Preview: Welcome Back, Pekka"

The big news in Smashville, of course, is the expected return of Pekka Rinne to the Nashville net. Out since October with a hip infection, Rinne's absence has been one of the main factors behind the team's underwhelming performance this season (but by no means the only one). That said, it's too much to expect that with him back in goal, the Preds should expect to climb through the ranks. There are only 21 games left on the schedule and Nashville stands 6 points out of the playoffs, needing to pass four other teams to qualify for the post-season.

There is, quite simply, no margin for error. No time for Peks to acclimate himself to NHL action, no time for cold streaks by Nashville's leading scorers, no time for gaffes by young defensemen still learning the ropes.

What Happened Last Time: November 15, 2013 – Pens won 4-1. [Our Recap]

We had a feeling this was gonna be a great game, and that was the case until the Pens started running away with it. The Predators looked like a team at the end of a 7-game road trip that just wanted to go home.

The Pens did what they needed to do in this game, but overall it was a bit sloppy. Pens were able to get four past the chair the Predators had in goal and broke their 3-game skid, and that’s all that matters.

Penguins Player(s) to Watch: Taylor Pyatt, Brandon Sutter, Joe Vitale, Tanner Glass, Craig Adams, Deryk Engelland, etc. Maybe one of them will contribute offensively.

Predators Player(s) to Watch: Pekka Rinne. It's his first game back.

Gif that Seems Appropriate for Today's Game: 

Pittsburgh Penguins lines from Daily Faceoff:

Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Brian Gibbons
Jussi Jokinen – Evgeni Malkin – James Neal
Taylor Pyatt – Brandon Sutter – Joe Vitale
Tanner Glass – Craig Adams – Deryk Engelland
Olli Maatta – Matt Niskanen
Rob Scuderi – Robert Bortuzzo
Brooks Orpik – Simon Despres
Marc-Andre Fleury

Nashville Predators lines from Daily Faceoff:

Matt Cullen – Mike Fisher – Patric Hornqvist
Gabriel Bourque – David Legwand – Craig Smith
Viktor Stalberg – Colin Wilson – Nick Spaling
Richard Clune – Paul Gaustad – Eric Nystrom
Roman Josi – Shea Weber
Mattias Ekholm – Seth Jones
Michael Del Zotto – Ryan Ellis
Pekka Rinne