It is the tale of two superstars as the Pittsburgh Penguins (29-20-7) play the Edmonton Oilers (24-26-5) at PPG Paints Arena, tonight. Conner McDavid and Sidney Crosby face off for the sixth time in their careers to the delight of fans and media members. Tonight is just another game for both Crosby and McDavid but for the hockey community; it marks something larger, supremacy. The debate of who is the better player continues to be a lively one and tonight is another citation for the fans who participate in such dialogues.
Even with elite talent, the teams are trending in opposite directions in their respective conferences. Edmonton will not see the playoffs this year as they are 13th in the Western Conference and are less than a month removed from dismissing their GM, Peter Chiarelli. The Penguins find themselves as a fringe team holding the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference despite a recent stumble.
The playoff race for the Penguins remains highly contested with the fear of missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2005-06 season looming. Ironically the 2005-06 season was the last time Edmonton made the playoffs. The impression is the Penguins need to keep winning as the teams behind them show no sign of slowing down. Carolina trails the Penguins by one point, but have played in one more game. Buffalo continues their redemption tour as they are only 2 points behind the Penguins for the final wild-card spot but have been pedestrian of late. There is work to be done for the Penguins, but with players returning from injury and the chance to continue to improve at the deadline, the outlook is optimistic.
Matt Murray left the ice first today at practice, and it appears he will start against Edmonton. Matt Murray is 4-0 against Edmonton with a .922 save percentage and 2.72 goals-against average. Mikko Koskinen will start for Edmonton.
After losing four straight games, the Penguins soundly beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1, Monday. Philadelphia outshot the Penguins 51-28 but could not establish any momentum despite having the better chances. The Penguins rolled with the punches and found scoring from two lines to snag a valuable two points. Sidney Crosby (24) opened the scoring and continued his torment of Philadelphia. Crosby took the puck behind the net and tucked it under Carter Hart’s left pad before the rookie goalie had a chance to figure out what was going on. Welcome to the NHL, Carter Hart.
The Penguins never relinquished the lead despite numerous threats from Philadelphia, especially in the second period. Nick Bjugstad (6) ripped a shot on a screened Hart for what was the eventual game-winning goal. Bjugstad became the second member of his family to score a goal for the Penguins. Scott Bjugstad, Nick’s uncle, scored three goals in 1988 for the Penguins.
Philadelphia scored with under five minutes remaining in the game on a late penalty by Evgeni Malkin. Malkin received a five-minute major, and a game misconduct after swinging his stick at Philadelphia forward Michael Raffl. The incident started with both forwards engaging each other in front of the Philadelphia bench. Raffl appeared to punch Malkin in the back of his head and tried to skate off. Malkin in retaliation swung his stick at Raffl head. For his actions, Malkin received a one-game suspension.
Matt Murray started for the Penguins and saved 50 of 51 shots in the win. Evident of his workload, Murray was tested often but played one of his best games in net this season. Rookie Carter Hart started for Philadelphia and saved 24 of 27 shots, but lost his sixth game of the year.
Edmonton lost their last game to the Pacific-leading San Jose Sharks 5-2. Zack Kassian (8) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (17) scored goals for Edmonton. Conner McDavid collected his 50th assist. Cam Talbot started in net and saved 26 of 31 shots.
Zach Aston-Reese returns to action tonight. Aston-Reese will be a little more cautious when dropping the gloves (for now) after missing five weeks due a broken hand suffered in a fight
Kris Letang’s empty-net goal on Monday in Philadelphia was the 109th goal of his career, passing Paul Coffey’s franchise record for goals by a defenseman. Letang has set 3 franchise records this season after passing Coffey and Brooks Orpik for the most points and games played by a defenseman, respectively. Letang is the franchise leader for games played, goals, assists, and points by a defenseman in the regular season and playoffs.
Tonight is Brian Dumoulin’s 300th career NHL game.
Justin Schultz (Fractured Leg. IR. Practicing)
Olli Maatta ( Upper-Body. IR)
Andrej Sekera (Achilles, conditioning)
|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|
Scouts in Attendance:
Winnipeg (2x. Dir. of Scouting)
NYR (local scout)
— Dan Kingerski (@TheDanKingerski) February 13, 2019