It is not Deja Vu as the Pittsburgh Penguins (36-22-9) are on the road for a pivotal game against the Columbus Blue Jackets (37-27-3). The game is the second of a home and home series between the two rivals and the Penguins have a chance to gain a six point lead on Columbus with just 14 games remaining.
The Penguins have a peculiar dominance over Columbus with wins in 13 of the last 15 and eight straight victories dating back to the 2017 playoffs. Columbus is 4-6 in their last 10 games and looks dangerously close to missing the playoffs. The Penguins are trending in the opposite direction with a 6-2-2 record in their last ten and have won three straight.
Despite playing on the road tonight, the Penguins should take comfort in the fact that Columbus is barely above .500 on their home ice with a record 17-16-2.
The Penguins will send Matt Murray back to the net. It will be Murray’s seventh straight start. The big goalie is 22-10-3 with a .910 save percentage and a 2.79 GAA.
Columbus coach John Tortorella will make a somewhat surprising move. After not dressing Sergei Bobrovsky Thursday night, Tortorella elected to start “Bob” tonight. Bobrovsky hasn’t beaten the Penguins since the 2016-17 season and is 0-3-2 in his last five against them.
The Penguins beat Columbus Thursday night, 3-0. The Penguins scored an early powerplay goal with less than three minutes into the game. Phil Kessel (22) took a feed from Evgeni Malkin and shuffled a puck on net that trickled through for the early marker. Kessel’s goal was his first since Jan. 30 and was greeted with an ovation from the crowd and smiles from his teammates.
The Penguins built on the momentum with a goal in the second period by Nick Bjustad (9), his fourth with the Penguins. Bjugstad received a pass from Jared McCann in the high slot and fired a shot five-hole to extend the lead. Since his acquisition, Bjugstad has anchored the 3rd line center role and added a different element to the line-up. Sidney Crosby (31) added an empty net goal late in the third to ice the game. Crosby has now scored a goal in each of his last six games.
Matt Murray started his sixth straight game and capped it off with his tenth career shutout, and fourth of the year. Murray stopped 25 shots and has only allowed three goals in his last three games. Joonas Korpisalo was a surprise start in net for Columbus. Korpisalo stopped 28 of 30 shots but lost his sixth game of the season.
Olli Maatta (Upper-Body, IR)
Kris Letang (Upper-Body)
Bryan Rust (Long term)
Chad Ruhwedel (Long term)
Ryan Murray (Upper body)
|24.1% (7-29, 11th)
|72% (7-25, 28th)
|22.2% (6-27, 17th)
|60% (10-25, 32nd)
Expected Penguins Lines