Penguins Will Stretch Home Winning Streak to 12 by Beating Devils

Matthew Jordan

Monday, February 26, 2018 5:44 PM UTC

Monday, Feb. 26, 2018 5:44 PM UTC

The Pittsburgh Penguins will unveil their big trade acquisition on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET) when they host New Jersey in a potential first-round playoff preview.

[/]{"component":"video", "type":"youtube", "url":"", "videoSize":"Large" }[/]New Jersey Devils (72 points) at Pittsburgh Penguins (76 points)Free NHL Pick: PenguinsBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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It’s a 7 p.m. ET puck drop from PPG Paints Arena between Metropolitan Division foes New Jersey and Pittsburgh. It’s the second of four regular-season meetings between the two, although a first-round playoff matchup is possible. As of this writing, the Pens are tied for second in the division with Philadelphia, both right on the heels of first-place Washington. New Jersey holds the East’s top wild-card spot/

These teams met in Newark on Feb. 3 and the Devils won 3-1. Travis Zajac was the No. 1 star with two goals and an assist. Blake Coleman also scored and Stefan Noesen had two assists. Keith Kinkaid had to make only 15 saves – the 16 shots on goal were a season low for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin had the lone Pittsburgh goal and rookie Casey DeSmith was in net. He’s now back in the AHL.

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Both Clubs Swing Big Deals

The NHL trade deadline was Monday, but neither of these teams waited until the last minute to make a deal. New Jersey acquired forward Michael Grabner from the New York Rangers for a defenseman prospect and a 2018 second-round pick. Grabner, who will be a free agent net summer, had 25 goals but just six assists this season with the Rangers. Here’s a stat for you: There have been just three players in the last 40 years to have a season with at least 25 goals and fewer than 10 assists. Rather amazingly, that was the first-ever trade between the neighboring Devils and Rangers. The last time the Rangers made a deal the Devils franchise was in 1979 when they landed Barry Beck from the Colorado Rockies.

Grabner made his New Jersey debut Saturday in a 2-1 home win over the New York Islanders. He didn’t have a point with two shots in 13:34 of ice time. Kyle Palmieri had both goals, coming in the third period. Red-hot Taylor Hall had two assists and has at least a point in 14 straight games. That’s the longest active streak in the league. He leads the team with 66 points and with 26 goals (one shy of a career high). Hall had an assist in the first meeting with Pittsburgh. The Devils remain without No. 1 netminder Cory Schneider due to a groin injury.

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Meanwhile on Derick Brassard's Instagram story... #LetsGoPens

— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 25, 2018

The Penguins will unveil their big trade acquisition Tuesday in winger Derick Brassard, acquired in a three-team deal from Ottawa over the weekend that also included Vegas basically just for financial reasons that I won’t even try to explain. Brassard had 18 goals and 20 assists in 58 games for the Senators this season and is known as a clutch playoff performer with 22 goals and 33 assists in 78 career playoff games. Brassard is expected to center the third line between Phil Kessel and Jake Guentzel. That’s better than some teams’ first line.

Pittsburgh had a six-game winning streak snapped Saturday in a 6-5 loss at Florida in the second of a back-to-back for the Pens. Evgeni Malkin had two goals and his 36 are No. 2 in the NHL. It’s the Russian’s most since scoring a career-high 50 in 2011-12. Tristan Jarry was yanked in the second period for Matt Murray. Should be Murray in net here; he’s 23-13-2 with a 2.82 GAA and .909 save percentage. Murray has faced the Devils four times in his career and won all four with a 2.96 GAA and .902 save percentage. Note: Murray won't play as he's now dealing with a concussion. DeSmith was called back up and will start.

The Penguins haven’t lost back-to-back games since Dec. 29 & 31, and I don’t expect them too here. They have won 11 straight at home, two shy of the team record set in 2013-14. New Jersey has won just three times in its past 17 trips to Steel Town. Take Pittsburgh here for a Tuesday NHL pick, and Brassard will score in his first game.

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