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Preview: Devils at Penguins

Ben Lovejoy, Beau Bennett of New Jersey to face former teammates; Pittsburgh striving for consistency

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

DEVILS (10-6-4) at PENGUINS (12-6-3)

7 p.m. ET; ROOT, MSG+, NHL.TV

 

Devils team scope

Defenseman Ben Lovejoy and forward Beau Bennett of the New Jersey Devils will face their former team for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season. Lovejoy had four goals and six assists in 66 games with Pittsburgh last season, and Bennett had six goals and six assists in 33 games. Forward Kyle Palmieri had an assist in the Devils' 5-4 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday after missing the previous two games with an upper-body injury. He played right wing alongside center Travis Zajac and left wing Michael Cammalleri. The Devils did not hold a morning skate Saturday. Following the game Friday, coach John Hynes was critical of specific facets of his players' performance. "It's not so much we are out of structure, it's the decisions we should make not to pinch and when to pinch; little things that have to be tightened up," Hynes said. "We have to be stiffer in certain areas, chipping, our line rush against the defense, and our coverage coming into our defensive zone." Goalie Keith Kinkaid will start after goalie Cory Schneider allowed five goals on 33 shots on Friday. Kinkaid has a 2.24 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in four starts this season.

 

Penguins team scope

Pittsburgh, which also did not skate Saturday morning, will attempt to halt its recent bout of inconsistency a day after losing 6-2 to the Minnesota Wild on Friday. The Penguins defeated the New York Rangers 6-1 on Wednesday after going 1-2-1 and being outscored 16-7 in their previous four games. "I think it just comes with being ready to compete and executing," Penguins forward Sidney Crosby said after the game Friday. "That's what the game boils down to." Goalie Matt Murray, who has gone 6-1-0 in seven starts this season since recovering from a broken hand, likely will start. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury surrendered six goals on 36 shots against Minnesota. Before being held off the scoresheet on Friday, Crosby had four goals and two assists in his previous four games. He leads the NHL with 14 goals in 15 games since returning from a concussion. Forward Patric Hornqvist has not played since sustaining a concussion against the Washington Capitals on Nov. 16. Hornqvist is day to day, according to Penguins coach Mike Sullivan.

 

Devils projected lineup

Michael Cammalleri -- Travis Zajac -- Kyle Palmieri

P.A. Parenteau -- Adam Henrique -- Nick Lappin

Pavel Zacha -- Jacob Josefson -- Beau Bennett

Sergey Kalinin -- Vernon Fiddler -- Devante Smith-Pelly

Andy Greene -- Damon Severson

Yohann Auvitu -- Ben Lovejoy

John Moore -- Kyle Quincey

Keith Kinkaid

Cory Schneider

Scratched: Jon Merrill, Reid Boucher

Injured: Taylor Hall (torn meniscus)

 

Penguins projected lineup

Carl Hagelin -- Sidney Crosby -- Conor Sheary

Jake Guentzel -- Evgeni Malkin -- Phil Kessel

Scott Wilson -- Nick Bonino -- Bryan Rust

Tom Kuhnhackl -- Matt Cullen -- Eric Fehr

Olli Maatta -- Kris Letang

Brian Dumoulin -- Trevor Daley

Ian Cole -- Justin Schultz

Matt Murray

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Steve Oleksy, Tom Sestito

Injured: Patric Hornqvist (concussion), Chris Kunitz (lower body)

 

Status report

The Penguins assigned defenseman Derrick Pouliot (lower body) to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on conditioning assignment on Tuesday. … Hall skated on his own Friday morning. He's expected to miss another 2-3 weeks.

 

Who's hot

Kessel has seven points (two goals, five assists) in his past five games and leads the Penguins with 15 assists, five more than Malkin and Letang. … Cammalleri has two goals and four assists in two games since returning to the Devils after missing six games because of his daughter being hospitalized with pneumonia.

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