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Monday, February 15, 2016

Game Preview: at Florida Panthers - February 15, 2016




Pittsburgh Penguins (28-19-7; 5th Metro) at Florida Panthers (32-18-6; 1st Atlantic)
February 15, 2016 @ 7:30 PM - BB&T Center
TV: Root Sports Pittsburgh

The Penguins return back to South Florida for the 2nd time in 9 days. They'll hope to recreate the magic that led them to a stunning 3-2 comeback win in their last meeting against the Panthers. It's the 3rd and final game of the season between the two teams, and Pittsburgh will be looking to complete the season sweep. In addition to the win earlier in the month, the Penguins also won a 3-2 OT contest in October with Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, and Evgeni Malkin scoring the Pittsburgh goals.

It was 26 years ago that the Pittsburgh Penguins drafted Jaromir Jagr with the 5th pick in the 1st round, and he's still going strong. Today is Jagr's 44th birthday, and he enters the game leading the Panthers in scoring with 40 points. He continues to move up the all-time lists, and sits 8 points back of Gordie Howe and 2 goals behind Brett Hull for 3rd most all-time. He's not the only familiar face near the top of the scoring list for the Panthers.

Jussi Jokinen is 3rd on Florida with 11 goals and 27 assists in 55 games played, putting him on the same pace as his final season in Pittsburgh when he posted 57 points. Jokinen was a tough player to see walk in free agency, and given that he was shown the door in favor of keeping Brandon Sutter and Nick Spaling it's safe to say the Penguins made the wrong choice. 5th in scoring for the Panthers is Pittsburgh native Vincent Trocheck who is having a breakout season in his 3rd year with 17 goals and 18 assists in 55 games. The 22-year-old has been on a hot streak recently with 11 points in his previous 8 games.

The Panthers are in 1st place in the Atlantic Division and have a bright future ahead of them as a trio of top draft picks are playing key roles - Jonathan Huberdeau (3rd overall; 2011) is tied for the team lead in scoring with Jagr, Aleksander Barkov (2nd overall; 2013) leads the Panthers with 0.81 points per game, and Aaron Ekblad (1st overall; 2014) is quickly becoming an elite defender at just 20 years old. Balancing out the young and the veteran is starting goaltender Roberto Luongo, who has been one of the best in the league this season with a 2.23 GAA and 0.927 SV%.

Injuries

Penguins: Evgeni Malkin (lower body), Eric Fehr (lower body), Nick Bonino (hand), Beau Bennett (undisclosed)

Panthers: Aleksander Barkov (upper body), Dave Bolland (lower body), Brandon Pirri (ankle), Quinton Howden (upper body), Erik Gudbranson (upper body), Willie Mitchell (lower body)

Notes

- Tonight's game is the 2nd of a 2 game fathers trip for the Penguin dads. The dads watched the Pens Beat Carolina 2-1 Friday night and will watch the game tonight before the team returns to Pittsburgh.

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