The Pittsburgh Penguins (0-1-0) were embarrassed Thursday night. They will need a much better effort in the second game of the season than they showed in the first when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets (0-1-0) at PPG Paints Arena, Saturday. Its early in the season, but a win tonight will erase the Penguins’ first misstep in their quest to return to the top of the Eastern Conference.
“Cooperative play” and “support” have become the buzz word over the past few days as the Penguins have juggled lines and watched the film of their Thursday defeat by the Buffalo Sabres, 3-1 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins hold an all-time record of 26-9-4 and a 15-4-0 at the friendly confines of PPG Paints Arena, and have won seven in a row. The Penguins will wear their yellow third jerseys. Last year, they were 10-2 in the mustard bottle, yellow jersey, yellow helmet combo.
Matt Murray will start on Saturday. The 25-year old goalie was the best Penguins player Thursday night in the Penguins loss to Buffalo. Though his numbers are a little deceiving, Murray was at times spectacular. He posted a 3.10 goals-against and .927 save percentage. Columbus will start Elvis Merzlikins. The Latvian goalie will make his NHL debut but looked impressive in the preseason.
The Penguins delivered a lackluster effort to kick off their 2019-20 campaign in the 3-1 loss to Buffalo. Despite four power-play opportunities and outhitting Buffalo 42-35, the Penguins could not survive Conor Sheary’s wrath and vengeance. Sheary, who played for the Penguins for three seasons began the scoring just five minutes into the game. Sheary (1, 2) forced a turnover and finished a feed from Casey Mittlestadt, then added the game-winning goal in the final five minutes of the second period.
Besides the haunting by the Ghost of Players Past, the Penguins found the back of the net on the power play. Evgeni Malkin (1) and his new stick ripped a shot past Buffalo goalie Carter Hutton’s blocker to the tie game early in the second period. Malkin played a solid first game but had a few terse words about his teammate’s effort. Rasmus Dahlin (1) scored the third goal for Buffalo to stretch the lead to two goals. Dahlin used a nifty forehand glide move and shot the puck short side to start his sophomore season on the right foot.
Murray started in net for the Pittsburgh Penguins and survived an onslaught of shots. He stopped 38 of 41. Carter Hutton earned the win with 28 saves including six of seven shots on the power play.
Columbus played Saturday night and like the Penguins displayed poor effort. Toronto used star power and solid goaltending to beat Columbus, 4-1. Columbus could not rally from a two-goal deficit as Mitch Marner (1, 2) and Cody Ceci (1) scored their first goals of the year. Marner scored his second goal of the game in the third period for a three-point game. Columbus forward Cam Atkinson scored a power-play marker, but it was the only goal they mustered.
Joonas Korpisalo started for Columbus and stopped 25 of 29 shots. Frederick Andersen earned his second straight win with a 28 save effort. Andersen currently leads the NHL in wins (2).
Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin has a nine-game point streak versus Columbus. He has also recorded at least a point in 22 of 24 career contests. Malkin has 30 points (12g, 18a) in those games.
Murray is 8-2-1 all-time against Columbus with a 2.65 goals-against and a .912 save percentage. Murray blanked the Blue Jackets in his last outing at home against them on March 7, 2019, stopping all 25 shots he faced.
Bryan Rust (Hand, IR)
Zach Trotman (Sports Hernia, IR)
Brandon Dubinsky (wrist)
Liam Foudy (upper-body)
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||(28 for 125) 22.4% 10th NHL||(99 for 128) 77.3% 22nd NHL|
|Buffalo Sabres||(22 for 107) 20.6% 14th NHL||(87 for 111) 78.4% 20th NHL|
Penguins, -200, -10, (U 6.5)
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jared McCann||Jeff Carter||Jason Zucker|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Teddy Blueger||Evan Rodrigues|
|Radim Zohorna||Mark Jankowski||Colton Sceviour|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Mike Matheson||Cody Ceci|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|