Pittsburgh has won four of the six previous meetings, including three straight. Puck drop for this one is at 7 pm ET.
Devils Preview – Keep Up the Intensity
The Devils have just two wins in their last 15 games, and they’ve been shut out three times in that span. The six-goal outburst in the third period Tuesday, from six different scorers, was unprecedented. Prior to that game, New Jersey had scored six goals in a game once all season.
This year, the Devils average the fifth-fewest goals per game (2.56) and have the third-worst power play (13.3%). Pavel Zacha (10 goals, 15 assists) and Jesper Bratt (five goals, 20 assists) are tied for the team lead in points, with Jack Hughes one point off the pace (10 goals, 14 assists). Zacha and Bratt missed Tuesday’s game.
Mackenzie Blackwood missed Tuesday’s game with an upper-body injury, forcing the club to turn to Aaron Dell and Scott Wedgewood in net. If Blackwood is unable to go Thursday, Wedgewood is the likely starter.
This season, Wedgewood has a 3-6-3 record with a 3.07 GAA and a .899 save percentage. However, two of those wins were shutouts.
Joining Zacha, Bratt, and Blackwood on the injury report are P.K. Subban (COVID-19 protocol) and Ty Smith (upper body). However, any or all of them could be back as early as game time, as they’re all listed as day-to-day. As always, check the injury report before puck drop.
Penguins Preview – Stay in the Moment
Up 6-0 in the third, the Penguins completely let off the gas. Rather than sticking to what worked, Pittsburgh came out flat to start the third period and nearly paid for it.
As Thursday’s game is the second of three straight against the Devils, the Penguins cannot overlook the Devils ahead of their games with the Boston Bruins next week. Pittsburgh is one point out of first place, with Boston three points back. Taking it easy against New Jersey is a recipe for disaster.
Tristan Jarry was in net for all six goals against on Tuesday but has been the starter for much of the season. It’s a bit of a tossup on who gets the call between Jarry and Casey DeSmith, but with the back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday, I would expect Jarry to start Thursday and DeSmith to start Saturday.
This season, Jarry is 19-8-3 with a 2.85 GAA and a .906 save percentage.
Star center Evgeni Malkin (lower body) is still a few days away from returning to the lineup, but he skated Tuesday in a non-contact jersey. Kasperi Kapanen (lower body), Brandon Tanev (upper body), and Frederick Gaudreau (lower body) are all out for Thursday’s game as well.
The Pick Is In
I don’t expect the Penguins to make the same mistakes they made in the third period on Thursday night. Instead, I’m anticipating the team that jumped out to a 6-0 lead to blow the doors off the Devils.
The betting value isn’t there on the moneyline. Instead, take the Penguins on the puck line (winning by at least two goals).
Free Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins puck line.
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