Saturday, December 29, 2018

(12-29-18) Penguins-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Alex Pietrangelo will return to the lineup for the Blues (15-16-4) when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins (19-12-6) in the second of a five-game homestand today at 7 p.m. (FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM).

Pietrangelo missed the past 11 games with a broken right hand sustained Nov. 30 against the Colorado Avalanche on a check into the offensive zone boards from Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog.

The Blues, who went 6-4-1 with Pietrangelo out of the lineup, will pair their captain with Jay Bouwmeester, who has played better of late.

"Got the clearance last night from the doctors," Pietrangelo said after the morning skate. "It's relieving. It's not fun to watch, especially as long as I was out. The boys are playing well. It's fun to get back in when we're playing as well as we are."

Pietrangelo has been a regular on the ice since the Blues' trip to Western Canada last week and on Friday, was non-committal on whether he would play.

Interim coach Craig Berube saw enough of Pietrangelo following Friday's practice and that gave good indication that he would be available for selection.

"Obviously it means a lot," Berube said. "He's the captain of the team, he's a great player. It will be nice to have him back. He was missed when he was out of the lineup. He's one of those guys that it's hard to replace him. The guys did a good job while he was out."

Adding Pietrangelo is a welcomed sight in the locker room among his teammates too.

"Obviously we've been missing him," defenseman Vince Dunn said. "On the other side of things, I think a lot of guys have stepped up their games. But you can't replace 'Petro'. He's a one of a kind on our team, but other guys have stepped up. They definitely pulled their own way."

While Pietrangelo was out, veteran Chris Butler played the past 10 games but will be the healthy scratch tonight.

Butler had been paired with Dunn.

"I thought he did a real good job," Berube said of Butler. 'He's a predictable player, he's a veteran guy who's been around a long time. He knows how to play the game."

Pietrangelo said he's welcoming the chance to play with Bouwmeester again, and the two have plenty of familiarity with one another over the years.

"He's been playing real well too lately," Pietrangelo said. "It's been fun to watch. I've got to make sure I can keep up with him the way he skates. ... It should be an easy transition, we've played together before."

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Forward Robby Fabbri was taken off IR on Friday after missing the past 10 games with a separated left shoulder but will be a healthy scratch tonight.

Fabbri, who Berube indicated could have played on Thursday in a 4-1 win against Buffalo, also said Friday that it's up to the coaches when he will step back in, but Berube said that the chemistry of the forward lines is something he doesn't want to mess with right now in light of the Blues winning five of the past seven games.

So that means Jordan Nolan will remain in the lineup on the fourth line.

"I like the chemistry of the forward lines right now but we've got to get 'Fabs' back in there," Berube said. "He's off IR now and he's worked hard and he's ready to go.

"It's nice to get guys back, good players coming back, it gives you options, it's good."

That includes defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, who has been out with a hand injury since injuring it Nov. 16 at Vegas.

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Tonight will be the 4,000th-ever NHL regular-season game for the Blues, who will become the 10th franchise in NHL history to accomplish the feat.

Blues goalie Jake Allen is 3-1-0 with a 1.75 goals-against average and .937 save percentage in his past four starts.

Blues right wing David Perron has four points (one goal, three assists) the past two games. He has seven assists in 11 career games against the Penguins.

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Vladimir Tarasenko

Alexander Steen-Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron

Pat Maroon-Tyler Bozak-Robert Thomas

Jordan Nolan-Ivan Barbashev-Oskar Sundqvist 

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson-Colton Parayko

Vince Dunn-Robert Bortuzzo

Jake Allen will start in goal; Jordan Binnington will be the backup.

Healthy scratches include Robby Fabbri, Chris Butler and Jordan Schmaltz. Carl Gunnarsson (hand) is out.

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The Penguins' projected lineup:

Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Bryan Rust

Dominik Simon-Evgeni Malkin-Patric Hornqvist

Tanner Pearson-Derick Brassard-Phil Kessel

Zach Aston-Reese-Matt Cullen-Riley Sheahan

Brian Dumoulin-Kris Letang

Olli Maatta-Juuso Riikola

Marcus Pettersson-Jack Johnson

Matt Murray will start in goal; Casey DeSmith will be the backup. 

Healthy scratches include Jamie Oleksiak, Chad Ruhwedel and Derek Grant. Justin Schultz (leg) is out.

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