The Pittsburgh Penguins fight cancer (figuratively) and the Toronto Maple Leafs (literally) at PPG Paints Arena, Saturday. The Penguins will participate in their annual initiative for “Hockey Fight Cancer” during the pregame but continue to battle the injury bug as well. Fortunately, after a two-game road trip, the Penguins play five of the next six games where they are 6-3-1. Toronto is one of the most talented teams in the league, despite their struggles.
Toronto is 7-3 in their last 10 games against the Penguins and lead the all-time series, 83-78-17-7. The Penguins conclude their fourth set of back-to-back games, Saturday. So far, they are 3-4-0 in back to backs (2-2-0 the first night; 1-2-0 the second night). Toronto is also on the second of back to backs. They lost to division and Original Six rival Boston, 4-2 on Friday night.
Tristan Jarry will make his fourth start and fifth appearence this season for the Penguins. Toronto starts Kasimir Kaskisuo in net against the Penguins. It is the first start Kaskisuo’s career, but he has a 2.13 goals-against in the AHL this season.
The Penguins almost dotted off another come-from-behind victory, but could not crack goalie Mackenzie Blackwood in a 2-1 lost to New Jersey, Friday. The Penguins played an aggressive game, but could not overcome their own mistakes and cost themselves two attainable points. New Jersey took an early lead on a play that started unassumingly. After Brian Dumoulin lost the puck behind his own net, Jesper Bratt sent a quick pass to Travis Zajac (2) who chipped it into the net. The goal was made possible by Bratt’s hustle and the failure to cover the front of the net.
The Penguins played a better second period, but New Jersey capitalized on another mistake to stretch the lead to two. Blake Coleman scored his first goal in 11 games after collecting his own rebound low in the left face-off circle and flipping it home. Coleman started the play himself by shooting a lazy wrister that was misplayed and out hustled John Marino for the rebound.
Down by two, the Penguins fired up their third-period magic and came out with hop. It took 52 minutes of hammering away at New Jersey, but the Penguins scored a huge goal to bite into the lead. Jack Johnson ( I know, right?) went top shelf with a wrist shot from the circle to put to his team on the board, finally. The goal besides shaking Twitter to its core was Johnson’s first in 92 games. The Penguins seemed ready to tie, but New Jersey locked the game down thanks to 20 blocked shots and great goaltending. Mackenzie Blackwood earned the win and first star honors with a 38 save effort while Matt Murray stopped 19 of 21 shots.
Toronto fought back against Boston but fell short in a 4-2 loss, Friday. Auston Matthews and Kasperi Kapanen scored in the loss and helped force a tie in the third before Boston tallied two late goals. Brad Marchand scored twice in the third period, including the go-ahead goal to help snap Boston’s four-game losing streak. Fredrik Andersen stopped 30 of 33 shots while Tuuka Rask earned the win with 29 saves.
Scouts in attendance not too exciting:
— Dan Kingerski (@TheDanKingerski) November 16, 2019
Bryan Rust has six points (2G-4A) in eight career games against Toronto, which includes four points (1G-3A) over his last four games.
With Sidney Crosby sidelined after undergoing successful surgery on Thursday, the Penguins will look to Evgeni Malkin to up his game and lead by example. In 122 career games without Crosby, Malkin has 66 goals, 95 assists and 161 points.
Forward Alex Galchenyuk recorded his 300th NHL point in his 500th career game with an assist, Friday. He became the second member of his 2012 draft class to hit the 300-point mark.
Patric Hornqvist (Lower-body, IR)
Kris Letang (Lower-Body, Week to Week)
Sidney Crosby (Core Muscle, 6+ Weeks)
Toronto Maple Leafs
Alex Kerfoot (Dental Fractures, out)
Mitch Marner (Ankle, IR)
Trevor Moore (Shoulder)
|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|