Penguins-Blue Jackets preview
Here are some news and notes, stats and quotes to get you ready for Game 3 of the Penguins-Columbus Blue Jackets first-round playoff series tonight at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.
**Columbus forged a 1-1 tie in the series by splitting the two games in Pittsburgh, including a 4-3 double-overtime win on Saturday. That game ended a seven-game winning streak by the Penguins against the Blue Jackets, combining playoff and regular-season games.
**It looked from the game-day skate as if Beau Bennett will be back on the top line, on the right wing with Chris Kunitz and Sidney Crosby. Bennett started this series there, then got displaced by Brian Gibbons. Gibbons left Game 2 because of a suspected shoulder injury and did not skate this morning. It also looked as if Jayson Megna or Taylor Pyatt will play on the fourth line. They have been scratched the first two games of the series.
**The Penguins practiced this morning with two defensmen, Matt Niskanen and Paul Martin on the points on the top power-play unit. The forwards were Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz. Defenseman Kris Letang and forward James Neal were on the second unit.
**The Penguins are 7-2 all-time at Nationwide Arena and were 3-0 there during the 2013-14 regular season.
**Penguins defensemen have amassed 10 points, the most of any team’s blueliners in these playoffs. That’s 47.6 percent of the team’s 21 points. Matt Niskanen has two goals, two assists. Paul Martin has four assists. Of course, the flip side is that Sidney Crosby has three assists and no goals, Evgeni Malkin has two assists and no goals, James Neal has no points and Chris Kunitz has no points. Speaking of Crosby and Malkin specifically and his top two lines in general, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said, “I don't think we need them to score to win ... They know they need to be better.”
**Columbus will have winger Nick Foligno back in the lineup. He missed the first two games because of an unspecified injury. Coach Todd Richards said while he's unsure about Foligno's conditioning, he's thrilled to get him back. Foligno could make the Blue Jackets' forecheck even more aggressive. "There’s some different elements that Nick brings," Richards said. "Nick can play different ways, based on the skill set. He’s big. He can skate. He’s got a physical edge to him that he can play with. ... He's going to come in and provide a little spark for us."
**Columbus defenseman Fedor Tyutin won’t play after leaving Game 2 because of an unspecified injury. It appears that Dalton Prout will replace him in the lineup.
**The Blue Jackets limited sales of tickets for tonight’s game to Ohio residents for the first four days. It will be interesting to see if Nationwide Arena has as much of a Penguins flavor to it as it has during regular-season games here. Columbus winger R.J. Umberger expects a Blue Jackets vibe. “I think it’s going to be electric tonight here in our building,” he said. “This town, the whole Arena District area will be hopping today.”