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game preview

Penguins at Lightning preview

Murray can win seventh start in row for Pittsburgh; Vasilevskiy eyes Tampa Bay goalie record with point in 17th straight

by Corey Long / Independent Correspondent

PENGUINS (33-14-5) at LIGHTNING (33-15-5)



The Game

Andrei Vasilevskiy can record the longest point streak by a goalie in Tampa Bay Lightning history when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena on Thursday.

Vasilevskiy will try for a point in his 17th straight game; he's 14-0-2 with a 2.10 goals-against average, .930 save percentage and two shutouts in his past 16 starts. He is tied with Nikolai Khabibulin, who was 12-0 with four ties for the Lightning from Feb. 15-April 2, 2003.

Tampa Bay, in second place in the Atlantic Division, seeks its fifth straight victory and eighth in a row at home. The Lightning are 16-2-1 in their past 19 games overall.

The Penguins, in second place in the Metropolitan Division, seek their third consecutive win. They're 8-2-0 in their past 10 games and 16-4-1 in their past 21.

Goalie Matt Murray is expected to start and will try to win for the seventh straight time; he's 6-0-0 with a 2.63 GAA and .922 save percentage in his past six starts.


Players to watch

Penguins center Sidney Crosby has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in seven games since returning from core muscle surgery.

Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, who will play in his 500th NHL game, has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in an eight-game point streak.


They said it

"It's a huge test for us. We're probably playing the best teams right now. And finally we're playing like a tight group and a full 60 minutes. We're playing better in the [defensive] zone. It's like [playing] playoff games." -- Penguins center Evgeni Malkin

"It's an adjustment going from my left to right side, but it's fine. I've played there before. It's all good, especially playing with [Victor Hedman]. He's going to make life easy for me." -- Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev on moving to Tampa Bay's first defense pair


Penguins projected lineup

Jared McCann -- Sidney Crosby -- Dominik Simon

Bryan Rust -- Evgeni Malkin -- Patric Hornqvist

Zach Aston-Reese -- Teddy Blueger -- Brandon Tanev

Andrew Agozzino -- Sam Lafferty -- Anthony Angello

Jack Johnson -- Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson -- John Marino

Chad Ruhwedel -- Justin Schultz

Matt Murray

Tristan Jarry

Scratched: Juuso Riikola, Alex Galchenyuk

Injured: Nick Bjugstad (lower body), Dominik Kahun (concussion), Jake Guentzel (upper body), Brian Dumoulin (lower body)


Lightning projected lineup

Steven Stamkos -- Brayden Point -- Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat -- Anthony Cirelli -- Tyler Johnson

Alex Killorn -- Cedric Paquette -- Pat Maroon

Carter Verhaeghe -- Mitchell Stephens -- Yanni Gourde

Victor Hedman -- Mikhail Sergachev

Ryan McDonagh -- Erik Cernak

Braydon Coburn -- Kevin Shattenkirk

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Luke Schenn

Injured: Jan Rutta (lower body)


Status report

Rutta, a defenseman, was at the morning skate using a knee cart and will miss an extended period of time. The injury is not season-ending, Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. … Each team held an optional morning skate Thursday.


Stat pack

Stamkos has 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in an eight-game point streak. … Malkin has 51 points (23 goals, 28 assists) in 38 games against Tampa Bay.

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