Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Pittsburgh Penguins hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:
— Despite being the closest mutual rivals for both Columbus and Pittsburgh, in terms of geography (the two cities are separated by only 189 miles), the Blue Jackets and Penguins are playing in the same NHL division (Metropolitan) for the first time in 2013-14. The Pens won the first two divisional games of this season’s five-game set, sweeping a home-and-home on Nov. 1 and 2.
— Since the Consol Energy Center opened before the 2010-11 season, the Penguins have won 84 regular-season home games, most in the NHL. During that span, the Blue Jackets have won only 44 road games, T-3rd fewest in the league (Edmonton, Florida – 42).
— The Blue Jackets have yet to allow a goal in December, having posted shutouts in their two games this month (1-0 vs. Tampa Bay, 4-0 vs. Minnesota). These were their first back-to-back shutouts since Nov. 20-22, 2010. Only once have the Jackets pitched three clean sheets in a row (Dec. 27-31, 2008), when they set a franchise-record shutout streak of 199:19. Their current streak is 137:45.
— The Penguins have seven players on their active roster with 100+ career NHL goals, the second-most in the NHL, after Detroit (Sidney Crosby – 253, Evgeni Malkin – 224, Chris Kunitz – 189, Pascal Dupuis – 179, James Neal – 144, Jussi Jokinen – 137, Chuck Kobasew – 110). On the flipside, the Blue Jackets are one of two teams (Colorado) with only one (R.J. Umberger – 158). (Elias Sports Bureau)
— The Blue Jackets are a perfect 35-0-0 (an NHL-best 1.000) when leading after two periods since Todd Richards took over as head coach on Jan. 9, 2012. The Penguins, which lost 3-2 in regulation at Boston after holding a 2-1 lead after two periods, have the fifth-best record during that span (52-3-1, .938).
— Penguins winger Chris Kunitz enters tonight’s game with a seven-game point streak (six goals, four assists), tying his career high. Only Evgeni Malkin (nine games, active) and Sidney Crosby (eight) have longer point streaks this season among the Pens.
— Crosby ranks second in the NHL in faceoffs won, with 390 (Antoine Vermette, Phoenix, 393).
— The Blue Jackets’ top line of LW Nick Foligno – C Ryan Johansen – RW R.J. Umberger has combined for nine goals, 19 points and 41 shots on goal in their past six games.
— The Blue Jackets have lost five of their last six meetings (1-4-1) against the Penguins. The only win in those games came in Pittsburgh on Feb. 8, 2011. Only five players from that night’s roster remain with Columbus: Jared Boll (injured), Matt Calvert, Derek MacKenzie, Fedor Tyutin and R.J. Umberger.