The California road trip continues tonight as the Pittsburgh Penguins (25-13-6) square off against the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center. The Penguins continue to add wins during their season-best stretch of hockey and have won 13 of their last 14 games. The Columbus Blue Jackets now trail the second place Penguins by three points in the Metropolitan Division race. After last night, the Penguins still trail the Washington Capitals for the top spot in the division by four points. However, the Penguins have opened up a cushion on the New York Islanders, who trail by 4 points. New York has two games in hand on the Penguins.
Last night, the Penguins rallied from deficits twice and rode a lethal third period to victory against the Anaheim Ducks, 7-4. Jake Guentzel (19,20,21) scored a hat trick while Tanner Pearson (7,8) added two goals in the win. The Penguins rallied from a three-goal deficit in the first period. Former Penguin Daniel Sprong (6) potted the third goal on a wrist shot traffic.
Evgeni Malkin (14) started the Penguins comeback by knocking home a Phil Kessel feed only a minute into the second period. Anaheim regained the lead towards the end of the second on Jakob Silverberg’s (12) shorthanded goal. That was the 9th shortie the Penguins have allowed. In the third period, the Penguins put Anaheim away with a 4-goal outburst to ultimately send the Californians to the exits. The Penguins acquisition in the Daniel Sprong trade Marcus Pettersson added an assist and led the Penguins in plus-minus with +2. Malkin ended the game with three points (1g, 2a).
Matt Murray started in net for the Penguins and despite surrendering four goals on 25 shots earned his 9th straight win. It was the first time since Murray returned from the IR he gave up more than three goals. Anaheim starter John Gibson was at times brilliant but stopped only 29 of 35 shots. It was the most goals Gibson has given up this season.
Casey DeSmith, 27, will make his first start for the Penguins since he signed a three-year, $3.75 million deal. DeSmith is 12-7-4 with a .924 save percentage.
Los Angeles lost against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, 4-1. LA forward Kyle Clifford (7) scored the first goal of the game in the second period but LA didn’t score again. Ottawa blitzed LA with four unanswered goals despite being outshot 34-27. Bobby Ryan (9) and Chris Tierney (5,6) lead Ottawa. Recently acquired Anders Nilsson started for Ottawa and saved 33 of 34 shots in his first start with his new team. Jonathan Quick started for LA and stopped 23 of 26 shots. LA has lost two straight.
The Penguins and Los Angeles last played each other on December 15, 2018, at PPG Paints arena. Matt Murray contributed a huge effort in his first game back from injury with 38 saves. Phil Kessel scored the OT winner with a minute left in the extra frame. You can read more about the game here and the Report Card on PHN Extra
Phil Kessel is two goals shy of hitting the 20 goal mark for the 12th straight season. When accomplished, Kessel will join Patrick Kane and Keith Tkachuk as the only American-born players to achieve that mark.
Justin Schultz (Fractured Leg. IR)
Patric Hornqvist (Concussion)
Zach Aston-Reese (IR)
Jonny Brodzinski ( Upper Body, IR)
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||12.5% (12th NHL)||80.0% (9th NHL)|
|New York Islanders||20.0% (8th NHL)||87.5% (4th NHL)|
Expected Penguins Lines
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Dominik Kahun|
|Alex Galchenyuk||Evgeni Malkin||Bryan Rust|
|Jared McCann||Nick Bjugstad||Patric Hornqvist|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Teddy Blueger||Brandon Tanev|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Jack Johnson||Justin Schultz|
|Marcus Pettersson||Erik Gudbranson|