The Pittsburgh Penguins (2-2-0) take the show on the road as they face-off against the Minnesota Wild (0-3-0) at Xcel Energy Center, Saturday. This is the first time this season the Penguins play on the road after starting the season with four straight home games. The Penguins also have a chance to “strike while the iron is hot” against a winless team and keep pace in Metropolitan Division. Currently, Carolina leads the division with 10 points, and second-place Washington has six points which are two ahead of the Penguins.
It appears Matt Murray will start for the Penguins, as he joined the Penguins scratches for the morning skate Saturday morning. Devan Dubnyk will start for Minnesota. He was 12-15-4 with a 2.56 GAA and .911 SV% at Xcel Energy Center last year.
The Penguins and their depleted roster earned a win against Anaheim 2-1, Thursday. The Penguins were without four of its regular forwards. Evgeni Malkin, Nick Bjugstad, and Bryan Rust. Each is out long term. Alex Galchenyuk was placed on injured reserve Wednesday with a lower-body injury. Despite this, the Penguins came together as a team and tagged Anaheim with their first loss of the year. Neither team could score in the first period, although each team drew multiple scoring chances, and the stage remained set for a goaltender duel.
The Penguins dominated the early minutes of the second period and converted a power play. Sidney Crosby (2) redirected a Kris Letang shot from the point for the first goal of the game. Crosby has six points during a four-game point streak and will need to carry the Penguins until the team gets healthy. Despite the early jab in the second period, responded quickly and scored less than a minute later. Ondrej Kase (1) took a feed behind the net and ripped a shot past a surprised Matt Murray for the tying goal.
Seven minutes into the third period, each member of the Penguins top line touched the puck. Dominik Simon lunged to chip the puck out of the defensive zone to Crosby who beat two Anaheim defenders and zipped a centering pass to the waiting stick of Jake Guentzel. Guentzel didn’t miss. The goal broke the tie and put Guentzel on the score sheet for the first time this year.
Simon talked to PHN about his role in the goal and his deft move to lift a defender stick to allow Crosby’s pass to reach Guentzel.
Matt Murray received the second star of the game and provided the Penguins with a solid performance. Murray stopped 31 shots, including five when his team was shorthanded. John Gibson, despite a 26 save effort, received the loss but did earn third-star honors.
Minnesota starts the day still searching their first win of the year after they were unable to spoil Winnipeg’s home opener, Thursday. Winnipeg rode a four-point performance by Patrik Laine to a 5-2 victory in a game that felt much closer than the score indicated. Minnesota struck first with the only first-period goal for either team, but could not hold on or add to lead as Winnipeg exploded for two goals in the second to take a lead into the second intermission. Minnesota showed life by tying the score early in the third on a Brad Hunt (1) blast but eventually succumbed to a three-goal outburst by Winnipeg. Devan Dubnyk started in net for Minnesota and made 27 saves in the loss. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 38 of 40 shots for his second straight win.
Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman John Marino will make his third straight appearance.
Tonight, the Penguins begin their first set of 17 back-to-back games. Last year, the Penguins were 12-7-3 in back-to-backs including 6-3-2 in the first game.
The Penguins face Bill Guerin for the first time since he left the team to become the Minnesota Wild General Manager. Guerin spent the previous eight seasons in the Penguins’ hockey operations department, and last five as one of the Pens’ assistant general managers.
Murray has 99 career wins and will join Marc-Andre Fleury, Tom Barrasso, and Ken Wregget as the only netminders in Penguins history to win 100 games with the team.
Forward Joseph Blandisi has been recalled from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on an emergency basis. F Andrew Agozzino is re-assigned to WBS.
Bryan Rust (Hand, LTIR)
Zach Trotman (Sports Hernia, IR)
Evgeni Malkin (Lower Body, Long Term)
Nick Bjugstad (Lower Body)
Alex Galchenyuk (Undisclosed, IR)
Greg Pateryn (Bilateral core muscle surgery, IR)
|24.1% (7-29, 11th)
|72% (7-25, 28th)
|22.2% (6-27, 17th)
|60% (10-25, 32nd)
Penguins, +100, -10, (U 5.5)