The Pittsburgh Penguins (39-24-9) conclude their season series against the Philadelphia Flyers (34-29-8) at PPG Paints Arena, tonight. Both teams start the day on opposite sides of the playoff push. Philadelphia isn’t eliminated from the playoffs yet, but they will need a “Rocky” like effort to thrust themselves back into the race.
The Penguins despite a loss yesterday, maintain the third spot in the Metropolitan Division and remain a close four points behind first place Washington. An Islanders loss paired with a Penguins win will move the Penguins into second place. No other relevant Metro games are slated for tonight.
Both Penguins goaltenders saw action in yesterday’s game, but Matt Murray start his second straight, tonight. Philadelphia will start rookie Carter Hart. In his only start against the Penguins, Hart gave up four goals on 27 shots on Feb. 12.
The Penguins could not find their footing in a 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues, yesterday. St Louis, who are in goal scoring slump, blitzed the Penguins from the drop of the puck. Former Penguin Oskar Sundqvist (13) opened the scoring just five minutes into the game and enacted vengenace on his former team. Sundqvist continues to have a career year after only scoring one goal in his first NHL season last year.
The Penguins pulled starter Matt Murray after St. Louis made the score 4-0 on two goals 1:10 apart, and the Penguins finally woke up. Dominik Simon (8) scored to cut the lead to 4-1, but it would be the only goal the Penguins could muster in the game and despite numerous chances could not find the back of the net again.
After a power play explosion in their last game, The Penguins were 0-4 with the man advantage and could not utilize it to shift the momentum in the game. A huge factor in keeping the Penguins tamed was goaltender Jordan Binnington. The 25-year old rookie made huge saves on the penalty kill, and despite the Penguins testing him with 41 shots, he looked unflappable.
Matt Murray started for the Penguins and saved nine of 13 shots before replaced by Casey DeSmith. Coming off a great start against Buffalo, DeSmith faired a little better with 12 saves on 13 shots.
Philadelphia failed to hold a 5-2 lead against Toronto and ended up losing 7-6, Friday. Six Flyers ended the game with multi-point efforts including a James Van Riemsdyk (22,23,24) hat trick but a two-goal performance by Auston Matthews (33,34) ultimately sunk them. Brian Elliott surprisingly played the full 60 minutes and saved 44 of 51 shots. Fredrick Andersen started for Toronto and turned away 23 of 29 shots.
Erik Gudbranson has become an avenger for the Penguins since his acquistion. The Swedish translation of Gudbranson’s last name is “God’s Sword” according to Haakan Jonsson, the president of a team partner. Eyes will be on Gudbranson tonight as previous matchups between the two teams have been eventful.
Tonight, Phil Kessel will skate in his 319th-consecutive game since joining the Penguins. That will move Kessel into a tie with Craig Adams for the longest games played streak in franchise history.
Olli Maatta (Upper-Body, IR)
Kris Letang (Upper-Body)
Bryan Rust (Long term, Skating)
Chad Ruhwedel (Long term)
Zach Aston Reese (Long Term)
Michal Neuvirth (Lower body)
|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
NOTE: Bryan Rust is a Game-Time Decision and Kris Letang is still out. Lines are subject to change.
|Jared McCann||Sidney Crosby||Jake Guentzel|
|Bryan Rust||Evgeni Malkin||Phil Kessel|
|Dominik Simon||Nick Bjugstad||Patric Hornqvist|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Matt Cullen||Garrett Wilson|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Jack Johnson||Justin Schultz|
|Marcus Pettersson||Erik Gudbranson|