NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Penguins vs. Bruins; Blackhawks vs. Sharks

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues with a doubleheader on Thursday night. In the early game, the Boston Bruins will host the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7:00 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online by clicking here

Despite being one of the hottest teams in the NHL during the second half of the season, the Penguins are still under .500 away from home. On the bright side, they’ve managed to win three of their last four road games. Pittsburgh will play two games at home after tonight, but they’ll play five of their following six games on the road.

The Pens are heading into tonight’s game having dropped two games in a row. The first was a 6-5 loss to the Panthers on Saturday, while the second was a 3-2 loss to New Jersey on Tuesday.

“The results that we’ve gotten the last couple of games we’ve probably deserved,” head coach Mike Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We’ve got to do a better job at playing a 200-foot game — making sure that we limit the chances that we give up off the rush, we take care of the puck in the critical areas of the rink, we stay on the right side of scrums, we change smart. All the details of the game that we talk about almost daily. I think it’s that attention to detail that helps us win.”

They currently sit in third place in the Metro Division. They’re two points behind the Flyers and three points behind the Capitals, who are in top spot.

This will be the second game of a six-game homestand. The Bruins won the first one in overtime against the Hurricanes and they’ll look to keep rolling against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions tonight.

“I think the best thing for us about the game it to measure where we are at,” said head coach Bruce Cassidy, per the Boston Herald.

“This is a two-time Stanley Cup champion that is playing very well, and a lot of people think is trending toward a third. So it will be a good measuring stick for the hockey club to see where we are at.”

Rick Nash scored his first goal as a Bruin on Tuesday night, and it sounds like another newly acquired player will make his debut tonight, as Nick Holden should suit up.

The Bruins, who have five games in hand on Toronto, trail the Leafs by a single point in the standings. They’re also six points behind Tampa with three games in hand.

In the late game, the San Jose Sharks will host the Chicago Blackhawks at 10:00 p.m. ET. You can watch that game online by clicking here.

The ‘Hawks haven’t played since Saturday, so they should be well rested for the first tilt of their three-game road trip through California. It’s not like the trip really matters when it comes to the Blackhawks’ playoff chances though. They’re 12 points out of a playoff spot with less than 20 games to go.

“Where we are today is equally frustrating, but it’s sort of in a different way,” GM Stan Bowman said, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “We haven’t had the season that we wanted. [But] I think the one bright spot has been the progression and emergence of some of our younger players.”

The latest youngster that will get an opportunity to make an impact with the ‘Hawks is Matthew Highmore, who was recalled from the minors earlier this week. The 22-year-old forward has 21 goals and 35 points in 56 AHL games this season.

As for the Sharks, they won their first game with Evander Kane in the lineup. Kane picked up a pair of assists in Tuesday’s 5-2 victory over Edmonton on Tuesday night.

“I kind of come from not playing so much meaningful hockey to playing some meaningful hockey,” Kane said, per NHL.com. “Obviously you get a little ramped up, and I just tried to change the game in any way I can. It’s good to get on the board and contribute offensively and also with some other elements.”

San Jose will play each of their next five games at home, where they’re 18-9-3 this season. The Sharks are currently second in the Pacific Division. They’re just two points ahead of the Kings, who are in third.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

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