It is Groundhog’s day, and the Pittsburgh Penguins (28-17-6) hope today is not a repeat of November’s 5-0 lost to Toronto Maple Leafs (30-17-3) as the teams faceoff at Scotiabank Arena, tonight. Just like in the Bill Murray movie, the Penguins seek consistency as they are 5-5 in their last ten games and need to “Phil” up on points in a tight Metropolitan Division race.
Currently, the Penguins have sole possession of second place in the Metro Division and trail the Islanders by two points for the top spot. Washington has the same amount of points as the Penguins but the Penguins own the “Goals For” tiebreaker. For the second time this week, the game is a chance to make a statement against a widely regarded Stanley Cup contender.
Matt Murray gets the start in net. Murray was great Wednesday against Tampa Bay. Toronto will counter with Garret Sparks.
Last night, the Penguins got scoring from their top two lines despite the absence of Evgeni Malkin in a 5-3 victory against the Ottawa Senators. Bryan Rust (13, 14) and Jake Guentzel (25, 26) each had two goals for the Penguins, which jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second period. The Penguins tamped down a surprise third-period Ottawa comeback for the win.
Casey DeSmith was in net the Penguins. He propelled the early start as he made huge saves to keep the Penguins ahead. DeSmith stopped 37 of 40 shots and improved his record to 13-9-4. Anders Nilsson started for Ottawa and made 35 saves in the loss. Teddy Blueger (1) was dynamic. He opened the scoring at 3:19 of the first period. It was just Blueger’s second NHL game. Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel each had two assists.
After being acquired Friday afternoon and had to scramble to Pittsburgh with a police escort (really), Nick Bjugstad collected his first point as a Penguin. He tallied the set up the play and tallied the secondary assist on Bryan Rust’s first goal. Get the full analysis from the game and Bjugstad’s performance from the PHN Extra Report Card.
You can also watch our Dan Kingerski’s Penguins Postgame Report.
Toronto also played last night. They lost to Detroit 3-2. It was the debut game for newly acquired Toronto defenseman Jake Muzzin, who was acquired from LA on Monday in a three-player deal. Auston Matthews (22) and Patrick Marleau (12) scored for Toronto. Fredrick Andersen stopped 30 of 33 shots.
Note: Last night, Matt Cullen became the oldest player to skate for the Penguins in franchise history. Cullen took the ice at age 42 years and three months. He surpassed the previous mark set by Hall of Famer Tim Horton, who was 42 years, two months and 29 days when he skated in a playoff game for the Penguins on April 9, 1972. Cullen is also 13 games away from passing Mike Modano for second-most games played by a USA-born player.
Perhaps Cullen will also open a national chain of affordably awesome coffee and donuts?
Justin Schultz (Fractured Leg. IR. Practicing)
Zach Aston-Reese (IR)
Evgeni Malkin (Upper Body, Out)
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||20.3% (16th NHL)||82.4% (7th NHL)|
|New Jersey Devils||17.7% (22nd NHL)||82.0% (10th NHL)|
Expected Penguins Lines
|Jason Zucker||Sidney Crosby||Conor Sheary|
|Patrick Marleau||Evgeni Malkin||Bryan Rust|
|Evan Rodrigues||Jared McCann||Patric Hornqvist|
|Brandon Tanev||Teddy Blueger||Sam Lafferty|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Jack Johnson||Justin Schultz|
Scouts in Attendance
To be updated when available