Another day, another Metropolitan matchup as the Pittsburgh Penguins (28-18-6) meet the Carolina Hurricanes (25-21-6) at PPG Paints Arena, tonight. The Penguins hope to improve their 15-9-2 home record but Carolina has a healthy 11-12-2 road record.
The Penguins are embroiled in the Metro soap opera. The New York Islanders hold the top spot in Metro and continue to play spirited hockey with a 7-1-2 record in their last 10 games. The Penguins maintain a second-place tie with Washington but have only a three-point lead on fourth place Columbus.
The Penguins next four games are against teams which currently have winning records, so points might be hard fought. Before this stretch starts, however, head coach Mike Sullivan sought to correct some defensive woes which have plagued his team. Sullivan was a little more vocal than usual at practice yesterday.
Matt Murray left the ice first and appears to be the starter, tonight. Petr Mrazek will go for the Hurricanes.
The Penguins stumbled against the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2, Saturday. The Penguins scored the first two goals. Sidney Crosby (23) blistered a one-timer past Toronto netminder, Garret Sparks. Then Teddy Blueger (2) continued his assault on Canadian teams with a goal in his second straight game. Blueger has been a huge shot in the arm for the Penguins in his brief NHL career.
Despite the early two-goal lead, the Penguins couldn’t fend off the Toronto response. Toronto scored the next three goals and handed the Penguins their 18th loss of the season. Travis Dermott (4) dug Toronto out of the early hole with assist on Auston Matthews’ (23) goal and potted the game-tying goal. Zach Hyman (9) broke the tie late in the second period on a rebound he slammed past Matt Murray.
The lead held up. Toronto doused the Penguins comeback with strong goaltending and faceoff wins. Toronto won 58% of the draws including three late defensive zone wins to prevent the Penguins from executing set plays. Sparks stopped 28 of 30 shots for his 11th win of the year. Murray allowed three goals on 33 shots.
Check out Sam Anthony’s Recap for a more in-depth analysis of Saturday’s game.
Carolina needs a win after a loss to the Calgary Flames 3-2, Sunday. Carolina forwards Sebastian Aho and Michael Ferland each had two points. Mrazek stopped 28 shots.
Kris Letang is currently fifth among all NHL blueliners with 44 points (12g, 32a). Letang is also just six points from his fifth 50-point season. The only defenseman in club history to tally 50 or more points on five occasions is Paul Coffey.
Evgeni Malkin will miss his second straight game. Malkin continues to nurse a hand injury believed to have been sustained in a fight with Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, last Wednesday
Justin Schultz (Fractured Leg. IR. Practicing)
Zach Aston-Reese (IR. Skating.)
Evgeni Malkin (Hand, Out)
Jordan Staal ( Upper Body, expected to play)
|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|
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