The COLUMBUS and the PITTSBURGH will both be gunning for a victory on 4/14/2017 at 7:05 PM when they meet in a game matchup.
COLUMBUS vs PITTSBURGH
When: 7:00 PM ET, Friday, April 14, 2017
Where: PPG PAINTS Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
|73||COLUMBUS||0 (-110)||5.5 110
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NHL Network, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
PREDICTION: Blue Jackets 3, Penguins 2
Oddsmakers currently have the COLUMBUS listed as 140-moneyline favorites versus the PITTSBURGH, while the game’s total is sitting at 5.5.
PITTSBURGH — It won’t be a surprise this time.
Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan confirmed Thursday that Marc-Andre Fleury will start in goal Friday when the Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets play Game 2 of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series at PPG Paints Arena.
Fleury, a last-minute replacement for Matt Murray in Game 1 after Murray left the pregame warmup with a lower-body injury, made 31 saves in a 3-1 win. Sullivan said Murray remains out but was intentionally vague on a timeframe.
Fleury, 32, is a veteran who was the team’s No. 1 goalie for several years and part of the 2009 Stanley Cup team before Murray, 22, stepped in a year ago when Fleury got hurt late in the season. Murray helped Pittsburgh win the 2016 Stanley Cup, and he moved into the No. 1 role during this season.
“It really doesn’t change our game plan or what we’re trying to accomplish in front of him,” Sullivan said of having either goalie in net.
What a coincidence; the Blue Jackets feel the same way.
“Both great goalies,” center Brandon Dubinsky said. “Both (have had) long playoff runs and a Stanley Cup, so obviously they’ve proven themselves to be good.”
Winger Scott Hartnell was more succinct. “Potato, po-tah-to,” he told NHL.com.
There has been some speculation that Murray was dealing with some sort of injury from a game last week, that perhaps the Penguins were prepared for the possibility they might have to switch to Fleury even before Murray tweaked something during the warmup. Murray did not dress for either of the team’s final two regular-season games, and Pittsburgh kept rookie Tristan Jarry — Fleury’s backup while Murray is out — on the roster as a third goalie entering the playoffs.
Columbus coach John Tortorella fueled that notion.
“It was kind of peculiar he didn’t play over the weekend,” he said of Murray. “But that doesn’t affect what we’re trying to do.”
Fleury doesn’t want to change much, either.
“It feels good when you contribute. It feels good inside,” he said. “But that was one game. We’ll get back at it.”
The teams are expected to dress the same lineups. Three players who recently dealt with injuries — Pittsburgh winger Bryan Rust and defenseman Trevor Daley, and Columbus defenseman Zach Werenski — did not practice Thursday, but their coaches described them as taking maintenance days.
The Penguins are expecting a push-back from Columbus.
“The desperation level increases with every game,” Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby said. “I think they’d be happy with getting one (of the first two in Pittsburgh).”
“It’s a series. It’s not one game,” Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson said. “You start the series on the road. If we can take one game going back home, that means you’re in the driver’s seat. There’s no reason to panic.”
There is reason for Columbus — which averaged just 1.9 goals over its final 10 regular-season games before getting the lone goal in Game 1 — to generate better scoring chances, including second chances. Fleury didn’t give up a lot of rebounds, and his teammates swept away the ones that got away from him.
“We’ve got to make it hard on Fleury with trying to generate some rebounds,” Dubinsky said. “It gets back to getting guys to the net and getting guys to that blue area. Goals are hard to come by. Goalies are good. You gotta bang some rebounds in.”
STATS AND RECORDS
|4/12/17||CLB 1||PIT 3||32||26||0-2||29||31||1-3|