Penguins look to pick up victory vs Jackets without captain


The Pittsburgh Penguins (15-14-3) will face off against the last place team in the Metropolitan Division, the Columbus Blue Jackets (13-19-3), tonight without captain Sidney Crosby.

The Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan is currently trying to snap the teams five game losing streak and get his first win as head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Unfortunately, the team will have to do so without Crosby, due to a lower-body injury suffered in the previous game against the Hurricanes.

Crosby joins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Kris Letang on the injury list at a time when the team needs their stars the most, and a loss against the worst team in the division tonight would send them into an entire new low.

Fortunately, Crosby’s injury does seem to be short-term, and nothing of a big issue.

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“I don’t believe it’s a long-term thing,” Sullivan said on the Pens website. “The hope is that with the (four-day) break coming up, that he’ll have a chance to recover.”

The Pens will replace Fleury tonight with Matt Murray, who had his first NHL start last game in which the goalie earned the 3rd star award. The decision comes after other alternate goalie Jeff Zatkoff gave up six goals against Boston at home on the 18th.

“Matt’s going to play tonight,” Sullivan said about Murray via the Penguins website. “I thought he really settled into the game the other night and I really liked what I saw.”

Sullivan did not hold a skate this morning, so it is at this time unknown what the lines will be for the night.

He desperately needs to find some line connections tonight, as the Pens have been outscored 15-4 since he has taken over. In Sullivan’s defense, he has faced some really hard teams, but I believe if he doesn’t pick up a win tonight fans will start to worry about more than just the short-term slump of this team.

Without Crosby, the team will look to their other star, Evgeni Malkin, to get the goals they need tonight. However, even Malkin is unsure where the problems are with the team.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” the center said to Fox Sports. “We play better, we’re tight. It’s a tough loss again, but (we’re keeping our) heads up.”

Despite Columbus’ record, they will be quite the challenge tonight, as the player of the Blue Jackets are fired up for tonight’s game, especially center Brandon Dubinsky. “That ham, turkey, tenderloin or whatever you like is going to taste a lot better on Christmas if we can find a way to get some points on Monday,” said Dubinsky.

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The puck drops at 7:00 PM EST on ROOT Sports.