The Pittsburgh Penguins (13-10-6) are on the road for an 8 p.m. matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks (9-18-5). The Blackhawks have stumbled this season after a couple year decline following their three Stanley Cups in five years run from 2010-2014. The Blackhawks fired longtime coach Joel Quenneville earlier this season and replaced him with Jeremy Colliton, who is just 3-12-2 since taking over. Chicago is in trouble and the Penguins should have an opportunity for a feel-good game and the Penguins lines will likely mirror the third period of Monday’s 2-1 SO win over the New York Islanders.
Chicago will be in the second of back-to-back games. They lost to Winnipeg, 6-3, Tuesday night. Chicago trailed 4-0 before Dylan Strome, Dominik Kahun, and Alex DeBrincat scored. However, Chicago could not tie the game. Cam Ward stopped 28 of 33 shots. Corey Crawford (5-14-1. 3.21 GAA. .901 SV%) is likely to start in goal for Chicago.
The Penguins starter will be a surprise until the morning skate. Will head coach Mike Sullivan start Matt Murray, who was activated Wednesday morning, or ride the hot hand with Casey DeSmith? DeSmith is 3-1-1 in the Penguins last five games, including a shootout win over the New York Islanders, Monday in which he allowed just one goal, and an overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators in which he allowed only one goal in regulation.
Update: Casey DeSmith will LIKELY start in net. DeSmith was the first goalie off the ice at the morning skate, which is customary for the starter.
Update #2: Matt Cullen will be a game-time decision.
DeSmith (9-4-4. 2.32 GAA. .935 SV%) started seven of the nine games in Murray’s absence. Murray (4-5-1. 4.08 GAA. .877 SV%) was not anointed the starter by Sullivan, yesterday. The Penguins will have a goalie competition.
Patrik Kane leads Chicago with 15 goals and 36 points. Evgeni Malkin leads the Penguins with 33 points. Sidney Crosby leads the team with 15 goals.
Tidbits: Chicago has defeated the Penguins eight straight times dating back to Jan 21, 2015 and including last year’s 10-1 drubbing in the second game of the season. Chicago special teams have been a disaster. The power play is last in the NHL. Their penalty killing is next to last.
Matt Cullen (Lower Body. IR)
Patric Hornqvist (Upper Body. IR)
Dominik Simon (IR)
Justin Schultz (Fractured leg. IR)
Artem Anisimov (Concussion protocol)
Erik Gustafsson (illness)
Gustav Forsling (Day-to-Day)
Penguins Power Play: 23.2% (T-9th NHL)
Penguins Penalty Kill: 83.7% (6th NHL)
Chicago Power Play: 11.3% (31st NHL)
Chicago Penalty Kill: 72.6% (30th 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|