The Pittsburgh Penguins (1-1-0) line up is decimated. They will play without their second and third-line centers Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad Tuesday when they host the Winnipeg Jets (1-2-0) at PPG Paints Arena. Jared McCann and Teddy Blueger will try to fill the Penguins void. Malkin is out indefinitely but thought to be about one month, while Bjugstad’s injury is not as serious.
The game is the penultimate of a four-game homestand for the Penguins while Winnipeg started the season with three straight road games. It is the first of two times the teams will meet in five days and could prove to build character as both teams are missing significant pieces in their lineups. The Penguins hold a 48-15 record all-time against Winnipeg (formerly Atlanta) and have won 12 of the last 14 meetings.
Goaltender Matt Murray starts his third straight game for the Penguins. Murray owns a 2.54 goals against, and a .930 saves percentage over the first two games. Winnipeg will counter with Connor Hellebuyck, who lost his only start of the year and surrendered five goals on 31 shots.
The Penguins earned their first win of the season by blitzing the Blue Jackets 7-2, Saturday night. After a scoreless first period, the second frame featured six goals, including five by the Penguins. Patric Hornqvist (1) broke the scoreless tie by redirecting a Jack Johnson blast from the point. The goal marked the first tally in multiple point efforts from Hornqvist and Jared McCann. 23-year-old McCann assisted on the opening goal and added two goals of his own later in the period. Columbus defenseman Zach Werenski tallied the only goal in the period for the away team. Hornqvist and Teddy Blueger (1) tallied third-period goals to extend the Penguins lead.
Murray remained sharp in his second straight start. Murray stopped 28 of 30 shots to earn his first win of the year and helped the Penguins kill their only penalty. Latvian rookie Elvis Merlikins started for Columbus, but despite a noble effort, only made 33 saves on 40 shots faced.
The decisive win proved cathartic to the team, who dropped their opening game in lackluster fashion, but also came at a price as centers Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad sustained injuries. Malkin was injured in the second period when he crashed into the boards with Columbus’ Vladislav Gavrikov. On Tuesday, Head Coach Mike Sullivan called both injuries “long term.”
Winnipeg could not fend off a NY Islanders team searching for their first win in a 4-1 lost, Sunday. After a scoreless first period, New York jumped up to a 2-0 lead on two goals in 5 minutes and never looked back. Patrik Laine scored the lone goal for Winnipeg as the second period was coming to a close. Winnipeg played without recently extended defenseman Josh Morrissey, who sustained an upper-body injury during warm-ups. Laurent Brossoit started in net for Winnipeg and stopped 29 shots in the loss while New York’s Thomas Greiss earned the win while making 35 saves.
Alex Galchenyuk is averaging a point per game against the Jets in his career. Galchenyuk remains a candidate to step up in Evgeni Malkin’s absence.
Although a small sample size, the Penguins are averaging 43 hits through their first two games of the season, up from the team’s 30.7 hits-per-game average in 2018-19. Through two games last year, Pittsburgh had 45 hits total.
Tonight will be the first time Brandon Tanev will face his former team. Tanev had 23 goals, 51 points in 195 games with Winnipeg last season.
The Penguins recalled forwards Andrew Agozzino and Sam Lafferty on an emergency basis yesterday from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to help fill the void left by the team’s recent injuries.
Scouts in attendance (Sorry, I forgot last game. Take 2)
NYR (local scout)
Washington (Craig Patrick)
All professional scouts. No bigwigs that I see.
— Dan Kingerski (@TheDanKingerski) October 8, 2019
Bryan Rust (Hand, LTIR)
Zach Trotman (Sports Hernia, IR)
Evgeni Malkin (Lower Body, Long Term)
Nick Bjugstad (Lower Body)
Bryan Little (concussion)
Nathan Beaulieu (upper body)
Josh Morrissey (upper body)
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||23.7%, 4th NHL||77.4%, 27th NHL|
|New York Islanders||18.8%, 21st NHL||83.7%, 6th NHL|
Penguins, -150, -10, (U 6.5)
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jared McCann||Jeff Carter||Freddy Gaudreau|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Teddy Blueger||Brandon Tanev|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Mike Matheson||Cody Ceci|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|