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Penguins at Lightning preview

Kunitz to play against Pittsburgh for first time since signing with Tampa Bay

by Corey Long / Correspondent

PENGUINS (2-1-1) at LIGHTNING (2-1-0)

7:30 p.m. ET; SN360, SN1, TVA Sports, SUN, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV


The Game

Forward Chris Kunitz will get his first chance to take on his former team when the Tampa Bay Lightning play the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena on Thursday.

In nine seasons with the Penguins, Kunitz had 388 points (169 goals, 219 assists) and won the Stanley Cup three times. He signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Lightning on July 1.

Pittsburgh is playing the second half of a back-to-back after a 3-2 win against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday. Conor Sheary scored the game-winning goal, and Patric Hornqvist had a goal and an assist in his first game of the season. He missed the first three games because of a hand injury.

Lightning center Steven Stamkos has at least one point in each of the Lightning's first three games but has yet to score a goal.


Players to watch

Evgeni Malkin has 47 points (23 goals, 24 assists) in 34 career regular-season games against the Lightning.

Vladislav Namestnikov has eight points (four goals, four assists) in six career regular-season games against the Penguins including his only NHL hat trick, on Jan. 15, 2016. 


They said it

"We just played two really good teams. They were both emotional games. They both had a physical dimension to them. It's encouraging that we're playing the game hard and that's what it takes to win." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, after the win against the Capitals on Wednesday

"I think you build a reputation around the League of going out there and playing hard, doesn't matter who it's against. Just because they're some friends and people you've spent a lot of time with doesn't mean you take it easy on them." -- Lightning forward Chris Kunitz 


Penguins projected lineup

Jake Guentzel -- Sidney Crosby -- Bryan Rust

Carl Hagelin -- Evgeni Malkin -- Phil Kessel

Conor Sheary -- Greg McKegg -- Patric Hornqvist

Tom Kuhnhackl -- Carter Rowney -- Ryan Reaves

Brian Dumoulin -- Kris Letang

Olli Maatta -- Chad Ruhwedel

Matt Hunwick -- Justin Schultz

Antti Niemi

Matt Murray

Scratched: Josh Archibald , Scott Wilson, Chris Summers

Injured: Ian Cole (jaw)


Lightning projected lineup

Vladislav Namestnikov -- Steven Stamkos -- Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat -- Brayden Point -- Yanni Gourde

Chris Kunitz - Gabriel Dumont -- Ryan Callahan

Alex Killorn -- Tyler Johnson

Victor Hedman -- Jake Dotchin

Mikhail Sergachev -- Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn -- Dan Girardi

Slater Koekkoek

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Peter Budaj

Scratched: J.T. Brown, Andrej Sustr

Injured: Cedric Paquette (undisclosed)


Status report

The Penguins did not have a morning skate after playing Wednesday against the Capitals. ... The Lightning are likely to dress seven defensemen and 11 forwards, which they also did in their 5-4 overtime win against the Capitals on Monday. Killorn and Johnson will rotate into different spots on the top two lines. … Paquette participated in an optional morning skate after missing practice Wednesday. He's considered day-to-day.


Stat pack

The Penguins went 3-0-0 against the Lightning last season. ... The Lightning are looking to start the season with three consecutive home wins for the second straight season.

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