Fan Appreciation Week continues as the New Jersey Devils (28-37-14) take on the Pittsburgh Penguins (49-19-11) for the fourth and final time this season. The Devils are 0-2-1 against the defending Cup champs this season, their lone loss coming in a shootout back in October when the two teams first met. The Pens begin their three-game road trip to finish the season while New Jersey has a pair of home games left and then will play the last ever game at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday.
Cory Schneider will get the start in net tonight; he and Keith Kinkaid will continue to switch starts through the end of the season (Kinkaid earned his first shutout this season on Tuesday against Philadelphia). Matt Murray will be in net for Pittsburgh tonight.
Miles Wood and Jacob Josefson will both return to the lineup tonight. Ben Thomson, who made his NHL debut on Tuesday, will be in as well. Devante Smith-Pelly is out for the rest of the year.
Pittsburgh announced yesterday that defenseman Kris Letang would undergo surgery for a herniated disk and will miss 4-6 months (which means he is effectively out for the postseason). Evgeni Malkin is also still out with an upper body injury, as is Bryan Rust (lower body injury). And while the Pens are already depleted with injuries, they may opt to rest some of their key players. Their first round playoff matchup is set against the Blue Jackets; the only thing they have left to play for is home ice advantage.
New Jersey has been outshot in all three games (no surprise there). Pittsburgh has been slightly better in the faceoff circle in the season series. The Devils have scored twice on the power play in eight opportunities; the Pens have scored twice in 11 opportunities.
Crosby has scored (at least) one goal in all three games so far this season. Beau Bennett scored against his former team in their last meeting, Cammalleri has a pair of goals, and Palmieri has three. Palmieri is still on the verge of a few milestones; he is two away from 100 goals and just 1 away from 100 assists. Maybe Pavel Zacha, who turns 20 today, will score tonight.
Pittsburgh is coming off of a 4-1 win against the Blue Jackets (playoff matchup!) on Tuesday, while the Devils won 1-0 in overtime against the Flyers. The Devils have won just three of their last 21 games, and will look to win two games in a row for the first time since February.
It should be a good game; puck drops at 7PM at The Rock tonight!