The Pittsburgh Penguins (11-7-4) return home to face the New Jersey Devils (7-9-4) at PPG Paints Arena Friday night. The Penguins, fresh off back to back OT losses, remain hungry for two points to further their cause in the Metropolitan Division race. Despite New Jersey’s record, the Penguins have had trouble exorcising them in recent history especially at home after a span of dominance. The Penguins hold a four-game winless streak against New Jersey at home (0-3-1). Prior to that, they had just lost once to New Jersey in their previous nine home games, making the Penguins 8-4-1 during that span dating back to October 3, 2013. One week ago, New Jersey beat the Penguins 2-1, at the Prudential Center. Jack Johnson scored the lone goal for the Penguins.
According to Mike Sullivan, the Penguins starter for Friday’s Penguins game will be backup Tristan Jarry. Jarry looked impressive his last time out against Toronto on his way to a 32 save win. New Jersey starts MacKenzie Blackwood for the second time against the Penguins this season. Blackwood penned a 39 save effort in a win against the Penguins on Nov. 15.
The Penguins concluded a home and home with New York, Thursday, and despite rallying late missed out on the second point in a 4-3 OT loss. The Penguins and New York exchanged goals in the first period after the Penguins were quick to strike in the period. Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel connected 1:06 into the game on a diving shot by Malkin that found the net. The goal gave the Penguins momentum majority of the period, but New York responded late to knot the game at 1’s heading into the first intermission.
The second period followed a similar script as the first. The Penguins score early to break the tie, and New York answered late. Bryan Rust continued his torrid play with an unassisted heater after he capitalized on a defensive gaff to spring a breakaway. The goal extended Rust’s goal streak to three games and gave him 12 points in his last 11. New York responded with the equally hot Anthony Beauvillier’s eight-goal of the year on the power play. Beauvillier picks up the puck off a favorable bounce to snap the Penguins 26 consecutive kill streak.
The third period featured back and forth action with New York scoring the potential game-winner at the 15:08 mark. On the power play, Brock Nelson snapped home a shot from the face-off circle to snag a late lead. The Penguins appeared to be set to fall in regulation but Patric Hornqvist’s late heroics helped them earn a point. With 30 seconds remaining and the goalie pulled, Hornqvist received a pass and jammed it on the net to send the teams to OT. New York played the better extra frame and haunted the Penguins with another late Brock Nelson goal to button up their extra point. Matt Murray started for the Penguins and stopped 20 of 24 shots while Thomas Greiss made 23 saves in the win.
New Jersey could not prevent Boston from extending their point streak to five games in a 5-1 loss, Monday. David Pastrnak and Matt Grzelcyk each scored two goals for Boston while Blake Coleman (5) tallied the only goal for New Jersey. Tuuka Rask earned the win with a 25 save effort including two windmill glove saves in the second. Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 23 of 28 shots for his fifth loss of the year.
The Penguins blue line saw two new additions on Thursday night, as Chad Ruhwedel and Zach Trotman saw their first game action in 2019-20 after it was announced that Justin Schultz would be out long-term with a lower-body injury. The much-maligned Penguins have dressed 10 different defensemen in the 2019-20 season. Only the Detroit Red Wings (11 defensemen) have dressed more blueliners this year.
In 57 career games against the Devils, Evgeni Malkin has 53 points (21G-32A). Only teammate Sidney Crosby and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin have more points against the Devils among all active players.
Kris Letang (Lower-Body, Week to Week)
Sidney Crosby (Core Muscle, 6+ Weeks)
Nick Bjugstad (Core Muscle, 6+ weeks)
Justin Schultz (Longer-Term)
New Jersey Devils
Brian Strait (Concussion, IR)
Kevin Rooney (Upper-body, IR)
Connor Carrick (Finger, IR)
|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|