The Pittsburgh Penguins (23-13-6) kick off the second half of their NHL season tonight against the Florida Panthers (17-16-7) at PPG Paints Arena. Under head coach Mike Sullivan, the Penguins have been one of the NHL’s best second-half teams. Last year, the Pens went 27-11-3 in the second half, which was the third-highest point total in the NHL. During Sullivan’s tenure, the Penguins are 79-32-12 in second half games.
Despite losing on Sunday, the Penguins remains in second place in the Metropolitan Division, but only have a one-point lead on the Columbus Blue Jackets. The New York Islanders currently have 2 games in hand and only trail the Penguins by two points. Get the PHN Extra Report Card and Analysis from the game–which was free to all readers!
This is the first meeting between the Penguins and Florida in this season. Last year, the Penguins won the season series 2-1.
Sunday, the Penguins had their NHL best eight-game winning streak snapped against the Chicago Blackhawks, 5-3. The Penguins roared off to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Patric Hornqvist (15) and Jake Guentzel (18). The Penguins were unable to hold the lead as the Blackhawks scored the next two goals to tie the score in the second period.
The Penguins got the leading goal with a little over 10 minutes left in the 2nd period on a Derick Brassard (7) one-timer set up by Phil Kessel but were unable to prevent the Blackhawks from tying the game a second time on Duncan Keith’s second goal of the season.
Chicago scored the only two goals of the third period.
The Blackhawks were aided by a strong outing in net by Cam Ward who had 31 saves. Casey DeSmith started in net for the Penguins and saved 26 of 30 shots. Penguins All-Star hopeful Kris Letang led all players in ice time with 27:35. Monday’s loss was the 9th straight time the Penguins have fallen to the Blackhawks. Pittsburgh last beat the Blackhawks, 4-1 on Mar. 30, 2014.
Saturday, Florida salvaged a point in their overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, 4-3. The Blue Jackets scored first on a breakaway wrist shot by Anthony Duclair (9). Florida quickly answered with goals by Mike Hoffman (20) and Jonathan Huberdeau (11). The remaining two periods saw both teams hold short lived leads. Florida defenseman Aaron Ekblad (8) scored with under five minutes left to force OT . The overtime lasted just 18 seconds as Seth Jones (7) scored to give the Blue Jackets the extra point.
James Reimer started in net for Florida and stopped 31 of 35 shots. Columbus goalie and pending unrestricted free agent Sergei Bobrovsky saved 27 shots for his 18th win.
Kris Letang will be playing in the 723rd game of his career tonight. This moves him past Rick Kehoe for sixth all-time in the Penguins franchise for games played. Earlier this season, Letang set the club record for games played by a defenseman.
Sidney Crosby is one goal shy from 20. This would be the 12th time in his career Crosby has scored 20 goals in a season. He will tie Mario Lemieux for the franchise lead in 20 goal seasons.
The Penguins lead the all-time series against the Panthers 53-41-4
Justin Schultz (Fractured Leg. IR)
Nick Bjugstad ( Upper Body)
|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|