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Devils at Penguins preview

Pittsburgh looks to avoid fifth defeat in six games; New Jersey 3-4-0 in past seven

by Wes Crosby / Independent Correspondent

DEVILS (7-9-4) at PENGUINS (11-7-4)



The Game

The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to avoid a fifth loss in six games when they host the New Jersey Devils at PPG Paints Arena on Friday.

Pittsburgh is 1-1-3 in five games without center Sidney Crosby, who is recovering from core muscle surgery. The lone regulation loss during that stretch came against New Jersey, 2-1 at Prudential Center on Nov. 15.

The Penguins are 5-2-4 in their past 11 games with six of those 11 decided in overtime or a shootout.

Goalie Tristan Jarry could start; he's 2-3-0 with a 1.99 goals-against average and .938 save percentage in five games (four starts) this season.

The Devils are 3-4-0 in their past seven games; they were outscored 18-5 in the four losses and outscored their opponents 8-5 in the three wins.


Players to watch

Devils forward Blake Coleman has four points (two goals, two assists) in a four-game point streak.

Penguins center Evgeni Malkin has 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in his past eight games, including multiple points in each of his past three games and in five of his past seven. He has 53 points (21 goals, 32 assists) in 57 games against New Jersey.


They said it

"I just think we have a lot of respect for Pittsburgh. You have to be ready every time you play them to make sure you're mentally and physically prepared to play." -- Devils coach John Hynes

"It was a collective effort [in a 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday]. It was team play on both sides of the puck. That's how we have to play, especially given the circumstance we're in right now." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan


Devils projected lineup

Taylor Hall -- Nico Hischier -- Kyle Palmieri

Jesper Boqvist -- Jack Hughes -- Wayne Simmonds

Blake Coleman -- Travis Zajac -- Nikita Gusev

Miles Wood -- Pavel Zacha -- Jesper Bratt

Andy Greene -- Damon Severson

Will Butcher -- P.K. Subban

Mirco Mueller -- Sami Vatanen

Mackenzie Blackwood

Louis Domingue

Scratched: John Hayden, Matt Tennyson

Injured: Connor Carrick (finger), Kevin Rooney (upper body)


Penguins projected lineup

Jake Guentzel -- Evgeni Malkin -- Bryan Rust

Alex Galchenyuk -- Jared McCann -- Brandon Tanev

Dominik Kahun -- Dominik Simon -- Patric Hornqvist

Zach Aston-Reese -- Teddy Blueger -- Sam Lafferty

Brian Dumoulin -- John Marino

Jack Johnson -- Chad Ruhwedel

Marcus Pettersson -- Zach Trotman

Tristan Jarry

Matt Murray

Scratched: Juuso Riikola, Joseph Blandisi

Injured: Sidney Crosby (core muscle surgery), Nick Bjugstad (lower body), Kris Letang (lower body), Justin Schultz (lower body)


Status report

Blackwood will start the first game of a back-to-back for New Jersey, Hynes said. It has not been decided who would start against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. ... The Penguins did not hold a morning skate Friday after the overtime loss to the Islanders on Thursday.


Stat pack

The Devils are 5-2-1 in Pittsburgh since the start of the 2015-16 season. ... Hall has 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists) in 16 games against the Penguins. … Rust has five points (three goals, two assists) in a three-game goal/point streak.

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