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Preview: Penguins at Jets

Pittsburgh's Kris Letang still sidelined; Winnipeg trying to stay in playoff race

by Scott Billeck / NHL.com Correspondent

PENGUINS (40-16-8) at JETS (30-31-6)

8 p.m. ET; SN, ROOT, NHL.TV

 

Penguins team scope

The Pittsburgh Penguins start a five-game road trip without defenseman Kris Letang, who has missed five games with an upper-body injury. "We're hopeful here that he's making progress," coach Mike Sullivan said. The Penguins are two points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for second place in the Metropolitan Division. "We need the points and [Winnipeg's] desperation level is going to be high," center Sidney Crosby said. "We expect a tough game. It's always a great atmosphere here. We've got to be ready to go." The Penguins are 13-12-5 on the road compared to 27-4-3 at home. "It will be a good test for us," Crosby said of the five-game trip. "It's an area we want to improve on. If you want to win in the playoffs, you got to win on the road. This will be a good challenge as far as the teams we are playing." Goaltender Matt Murray is expected to make his third straight start. Murray is 5-2-1 with one shutout and 18 goals-against in his past eight games. The Penguins are 6-3-1 in their past 10 games. 

 

Jets team scope

The Winnipeg Jets are five points behind the St. Louis Blues for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. "It's a really important game for us tonight, we've got to bounce back," forward Nikolaj Ehlers said. The Jets lost 3-2 against the San Jose Sharks on Monday, losing ground in their quest to make the playoffs for the second time in the past three seasons. "We're going to need to bring that same intensity, that same pace," forward Andrew Copp said. "We know it's going to be a real tough test. We've got to be quick, physical and not give them any room. They just play so fast. We feel like we can get to that game and we feel we can excel at that game." Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck will make his 13th straight start. He's stopped 78 of 81 shots in his past three games. The Jets are 5-5-2 in their past 12 games and 3-7-0 in their past 10 at MTS Centre. 

 

Penguins projected lineup

Chris Kunitz -- Sidney Crosby -- Conor Sheary

Carl Hagelin -- Evgeni Malkin -- Patric Hornqvist

Jake Guentzel -- Nick Bonino -- Phil Kessel

Tom Sestito -- Matt Cullen -- Tom Kuhnhackl

Brian Dumoulin -- Justin Schultz

Mark Streit -- Ron Hainsey

Ian Cole -- Chad Ruhwedel

Matt Murray

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Carter Rowney, Cameron Gaunce, Scott Wilson

Injured: Bryan Rust (upper body), Olli Maatta (hand), Trevor Daley (knee), Kris Letang (upper body)

 

Jets projected lineup

Nikolaj Ehlers -- Bryan Little -- Blake Wheeler

Mathieu Perreault -- Mark Scheifele -- Patrik Laine

Shawn Matthias -- Adam Lowry -- Joel Armia

Marko Dano -- Andrew Copp -- Chris Thorburn

Toby Enstrom -- Dustin Byfuglien

Josh Morrissey - Jacob Trouba

Ben Chiarot -- Paul Postma

Connor Hellebuyck

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: Mark Stuart, Nic Petan

Injured: Tyler Myers (lower body), Ondrej Pavelec (lower body)

 

Status report

Rust, who has missed 11 games, skated Friday for the first time since being placed on injured reserve Feb. 14. "There is no timetable, but the fact that he started to skate is a big step for him," Sullivan said. "He's still some time away." … Pittsburgh recalled Sestito and Gaunce from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League on Wednesday, and sent down defenseman Derrick Pouliot. … Enstrom didn't participate in the morning skate but will play. 

 

Who's hot

Malkin has 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in his past 10 games, and 26 points (14 goals, 12 assists) in his past 20. Crosby has 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists) in his past 23 games. … Laine has 15 points (nine goals, six assists) in his past nine games. Byfuglien has nine points (two goals, seven assists) in his past eight games. Perreault has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) during that same stretch. Wheeler has eight points (three goals, five assists) in his past five games. Scheifele has 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in his past nine games.

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