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Game Preview: Pens-Jackets (Game 1)

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pens host the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 1 of the Metro Division First Round. 

MATCH: Penguins vs. Jackets

SERIES: 0-0

TIME: 7:30 p.m. EST

PLACE: PPG Paints Arena

TV: ROOT Sports, USA 

RADIO: 105.9 FM, the X

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

The Pens meet division rival Blue Jackets for the 2nd time in the postseason. Pittsburgh triumphed, 4-2, in a 2014 matchup … Head coaches Mike Sullivan (Pittsburgh) and John Tortorella (Columbus) are good friends and will be facing each other in the playoffs for the first time. Sullivan served as an assistant coach under Tortorella in Tampa Bay, NY Rangers, Vancouver and World Cup of Hockey … Center Evgeni Malkin will return to the lineup for the Pens after missing the final 13 regular-season games with a shoulder injury … The Pens top trio of Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel and Conor Sheary have combined for 44 points (19G-25A) in their 11 complete games played together … Goalie Matt Murray gave up 6 goals in a defeat to Columbus in December. But that game aside, he is 3-0-1 with a 1.97 GAA and .940 save percentage against the Jackets … Defenseman Ron Hainsey will make his NHL debut tonight after playing in 907 career regular-season contests … Pittsburgh injuries: Carl Hagelin (lower-body), Chris Kunitz (lower-body), Kris Letang (herniated disc) … Columbus set club records this season for wins (50) and points (108) … The Jackets won their final regular-season contest to snap a 0-5-1 winless streak … Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has been the team's best player all season. The NHL All-Star led the league in GAA (2.06) and save percentage (.931) while ranking 3rd with 41 wins … Rookie Zach Werenski missed the last 4 games with an upper-body injury. But in the 78 games played before that the 19-year-old posted 47 points (11G-36A), setting a rookie record for helpers in a season … Cam Atkinson led the club with 35 goals and 62 points, both career highs … Pittsburgh-native and 2-time Stanley Cup champion Brandon Saad will face his hometown club in the postseason for the first time … Columbus injuries: Clarkson (back), Murray (hand), Sedlak (upper-body), Werenski (upper-body).

MORNING SKATE REPORT:

*The only absent healthy player for the Pens was Phil Kessel. Also missing were injured forwards Chris Kunitz and Carl Hagelin and defenseman Chad Ruhwedel.

*Murray was the 1st goalie off of the ice and will start. 

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