CANUCKS (17-7-1) at PENGUINS (17-5-2)
TV: SN360, ROOT
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will adjust their defensive pairings against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday at Consol Energy Center with suspended defenseman Robert Bortuzzo out of the lineup.
Bortuzzo received a two-game suspension Wednesday from the NHL Department of Player Safety for a late hit on New Jersey Devils forward Jaromir Jagr on Tuesday.
Pittsburgh held an optional skate Thursday morning, but it is expected defenseman Brian Dumoulin will enter the lineup and potentially play alongside Christian Ehrhoff. Paul Martin with Olli Maatta and Simon Despres with Rob Scuderi are the other probable defensive pairings.
"Obviously there's a little bit of nerves, especially playing in the National Hockey League," Dumoulin said. "But having those games last year definitely helps me know. Knowing some of the guys around the room has made me more comfortable. ... You can't think too much out there. It's really just about keeping my game simple."
The Penguins also will make a change in net with Thomas Greiss set to make his first start at Consol Energy Center. Greiss has made five starts for Pittsburgh this season, each on the road. He's 3-1-1 record with a 2.37 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.
"It's nice to play in front of the home crowd," Greiss said. "[The Canucks] are really even this year. It's a sign of a good team. You have to battle hard and match it up."
Greiss most likely will face Eddie Lack, who was the first Canucks goalie off the ice during their morning skate. Lack last played Nov. 20 in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks.
"I feel like Willie [Desjardins, coach] is doing a good job of keeping me fresh and motivated all the time," Lack said. "So there's been no problems at all … I hope that if I can get a couple wins together here, maybe get the ship rolling a little bit."
The most interesting matchup could come behind the benches, as Penguins coach Mike Johnston was the best man at Desjardins' wedding. However, Johnston said, "There's no friendships here tonight," after recounting their relationship.
Desjardins said he talked to Johnston on Wednesday about how fortunate they are to each coach in the NHL.
"During the summer we talked about different jobs coming up and things like that," Desjardins said. "I knew he was on the radar for a lot of teams. … It's such a great opportunity to coach in the NHL. It's unbelievable.
"Every day you kind of wake up and you're like, 'It's pretty great.'"
Here are the projected lineups:
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Radim Vrbata
Chris Higgins - Nick Bonino - Alexandre Burrows
Shawn Matthias - Brad Richardson - Linden Vey
Derek Dorsett - Bo Horvat - Jannik Hansen
Alexander Edler - Christopher Tanev
Luca Sbisa - Kevin Bieksa
Ryan Stanton - Yannick Weber
Scratched: Frank Corrado
Injured: Zack Kassian (finger), Tom Sestito (lower body), Dan Hamhuis (lower body)
Nick Spaling - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Jayson Megna - Evgeni Malkin - Blake Comeau
Andrew Ebbett - Brandon Sutter - Steve Downie
Zach Sill - Marcel Goc - Craig Adams
Paul Martin - Olli Maatta
Christian Ehrhoff - Brian Dumoulin
Simon Despres - Rob Scuderi
Suspended: Robert Bortuzzo
Injured: Pascal Dupuis (blood clot), Beau Bennett (lower body), Kris Letang (groin), Chris Kunitz (foot fracture)
Status report: Goc most likely will return to the Penguins lineup after missing two games with a bruised foot. … Letang is expected to miss about two weeks with a groin injury, Johnston said. … Hamhuis has not required surgery to repair his lower-body injury, but is not expected to return for at least six weeks. … Corrado, recalled from the AHL on Nov. 21, has yet to make his season debut.
Who's Hot: Malkin scored the lone goal in Pittsburgh's 1-0 win against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday. He leads the Penguins with 12 goals and is second with 30 points, three behind Crosby. … The Sedin twins enter Thursday tied for the Canucks lead in points with 24 apiece after each had a multipoint game against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. Daniel had two goals and an assist while Henrik had two assists.