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GameDay Caterwaul: Florida Panthers at Pittsbugh Penguins

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Cats and Pens open second half of the slate in Steel City

Florida Panthers v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Panthers (21-15-5 47P) at Penguins (25-11-4 54P)

  • WHEN: 5:00 p.m. ET
  • WHERE: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
  • ON THE TUBE: NHL Network, FOX Sports Florida, ATTNS-PT
  • ON THE DIAL: 560 WQAM (D/B), 640 WMEN (PB), 1370 WAXE (TC), Thunder 100.3 (Keys)
  • SOCIALS: #FlaPanthers, #LetsGoPens, #FLAvsPIT, @LitterBoxCats, LBC FaceBook
  • ENEMY INTEL: Pensburgh
  • FLA IN SEASON SERIES: Game 2 of 3 (1-0-0)
  • LAST MEETING: @FLA 4, PIT 2 - (Recap) 10/22/2019
  • NEXT MEETING: February 8, 2020
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Driedger (3-1-0 .938/ 2.00 1SO) vs Jarry (13-5-1 .936 / 1.94 3SO)
  • PLAYER STATS: Florida / Pittsburgh

Scouting Report (courtesy of Field Level Media)

The Pittsburgh Penguins and visiting Florida Panthers each open the second half of their season Sunday when they meet at PPG Paints Arena.

The Penguins bring a five-game point streak (4-0-1) into the game and have won eight of their past 10 despite injury troubles.

Saturday, Pittsburgh erased a couple of one-goal deficits to win 3-2 in overtime at the Montreal Canadiens.

”The resiliency is phenomenal on this group, and I think it starts with our leadership,” said winger Brandon Tanev, who got the overtime goal. “They do a great job of getting us ready. It’s a full 60-minute effort by a great group of guys, and we’re looking forward to getting back at it (Sunday).”

Tanev is part of an “energy” line that has been strong with three two-way players for Pittsburgh. In addition to Tanev’s winner, Zach-Aston Reese scored Saturday, and Teddy Blueger had two assists.

”We obviously like the line; we’ve kept it together almost all year,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “They have a unique identity for this team. ... They check hard, and they have an offensive dimension to their game.”

Pittsburgh is expected to give Tristan Jarry the start in net after a weird weekend for the team’s goalies.

Jarry, who has supplanted Matt Murray as the go-to guy, was left home from Montreal to be fresh for Sunday’s game, which was scheduled to start 22 hours after Saturday’s game. The Penguins planned to promote Casey DeSmith to serve as Murray’s backup Saturday, a role he held last season. However, DeSmith could not find his passport, so instead Emil Larmi was summoned from the ECHL.

Pittsburgh’s turnaround was tighter than Florida’s. The Penguins played a night game, then traveled home from Montreal, a flight that included going through customs.

The Panthers played the Sabres in an afternoon game Saturday in Buffalo before a short flight and presumably were in Pittsburgh before the Penguins faced the Canadiens.

Florida left Buffalo on Saturday frustrated after a 3-2 loss but hopes to build on its third period. After falling behind 3-0, the Panthers scored twice in the third and missed some chances to tie it.

”Maybe not deserving, but almost there,” Florida coach Joel Quenneville said.

The Panthers had won six of eight before Saturday’s loss and are 1-2 on a road trip that ends in Pittsburgh.

”It’s the last game of our road trip, which hasn’t gone exactly the way we wanted it to,” defenseman Mike Matheson said, according to the team’s website. “The best medicine for that is to get back at it next game and make sure that we bury every chance we get.”

Evgenii Dadonov has five goals over the past seven games, including three in the past two games. He has moved into a tie with Jonathan Huberdeau for the team lead with 17 goals and into third place on the team with 33 points.

Florida’s goaltending situation also is a bit murky given the back-to-back games.

Sergei Bobrovsky started Saturday but was pulled before the halfway point of the second period after giving up three goals on seven shots.

Backup Chris Driedger entered and stopped all 11 shots he faced.

He has played in just five NHL games this season but might be starting to push the veteran Bobrovsky. Driedger is 3-1-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average, a .938 save percentage and one shutout.

Sunday in the Atlantic (Standings/Panthers Playoff Chances):

  • TAMPA BAY (23-13-4 50P) at Carolina (24-15-2 50P) 5 p.m. ESPN+
  • DETROIT (10-29-3 23P) at Chicago (18-18-6 42P) 7:30 p.m. NBCSN

Idle: BOS (59P), TOR (53P), BUF (45P), MON (43P), OTT (37P)

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