Good morning hockey fans. Tonight the Pens continue their quest for home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs as they begin their season-ending 3-game road swing in Ottawa.
Pittsburgh has a 3-point advantage on the NY Rangers (100-97) for 2nd place in the Metro Division. Their magic number to clinch home-ice is 3.
“When you look around the league and teams are winning games so we have to try to keep pace,” forward Eric Fehr said. “We definitely want to start the playoffs in front of our fans.”
The Pens have won 6-straight road games and 12 of their last 13 overall. The Pens have won 20 road games for 9 consecutive seasons (excluding the shortened 2012-13 season).
“It’s something we want to keep going, keep pushing the envelope, continue to score goals and keep them out of our net,” Fehr said. “We want to keep the mojo going in this room that we have. We definitely aren’t going to let up.”
The Sens were eliminated from the playoffs, but still can play spoiler. Ottawa will be without Marc Methot and Scott Gomez in tonight’s game. Buddy Robinson will make his NHL debut. Also, goaltender Andrew Hammond will get the start between the pipes.
MORNING SKATE Full attendance at morning skate (minus injured players). The Pens used the following workflow at the morning skate…
Murray, the NHL’s No. 3 star for the week, will make his 3rd straight start in goal. He posted victories on back-to-back games over the weekend against NY Islanders and Philadelphia.
“I feel pretty good,” he said. “It’s something I’m used to. I’ve played back-to-backs a fair amount in Wilkes-Barre. I feel good.”
INJURY NOTES There was no update on any of the injured Pens players, particularly goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and his 2nd concussion of the season.
“All of the injured guys back in Pittsburgh are seeing their respective doctors over the next day or two,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “We’ll probably have more definitive information Wednesday or Thursday. They’re all back right now doing their necessary rehab and seeing the appropriate doctors.”
RESPECT Tonight’s game will feature 2 of the NHL’s best defensemen squaring off in Ottawa’s Erik Karrlson, a 2-time Norris Trophy winner as the league’s best D-man, and Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang, who is garnering consideration for that award this season.
Here’s a tale of the tape: Letang: 69GP 16G 48A 64PTS +6rating .93points-per-game Karlsson: 70GP 15G 64A 79PTS 0rating 1.13points-per-game
Both players are multiple-time NHL All-Stars and share a mutual respect for one another.
Karlsson: “(Letang) is a great player. He’s an even better guy. He’s been around for a long time. I’ve played against him and with him in the All-Star Games. He’s a well-rounded guy. If he can stay injury free I think he’s proven he can be consistently good. As of right now I know he’s playing some of his best hockey.”
Letang: “I like to watch (Karlsson) play. It’s pretty impressive what he’s capable of doing out there. Every time you play against him you have to match his skill, intensity and will to score goals. At the same time, I have to stick to what I do best and the way I play the game.”
THIS ‘N AT Fehr on the Sens: “They’re a dangerous team. They’re one of the higher scoring teams in the league. They have a lot of guys on their penalty kill that have scored. It’s something we have to be cautious of. They don’t have a lot to lose. They’ll be playing a high-risk game. If we keep it simple, try not to take too many chances, hopefully we can capitalize on some of their risks.”