The Pittsburgh Penguins (6-3-0) seek to start another winning streak against the Florida Panthers (3-2-3) at BB&T Center, Tuesday. The game marks the first of a three-game road trip for the Penguins and provides a chance for the team to bond. Tuesday’s game should be a friendly starting point as the Penguins have points in 14 of their last 15 meetings versus Florida dating back to December 20, 2014. Despite a growing list of injuries, the Penguins continue their hot play. A win Tuesday in their tenth game of the year can tie the seventh-best 10-game start in franchise history. The bandages are boutiful, but so are the wins. Hopefully, the Penguins can stay away from the vibrant nightlife of Florida but do have the sagacious “Grandma’s Ham” story to learn from.
Matt Murray starts in net against Florida after Tristan Jarry started against Vegas in Saturday’s game. Murray remains a shutout from tying Les Binkley for the third-most shutouts in club history at 11. Florida opposes with free-agent big fish Sergei Bobrovsky. The former Columbus goalie only has one win, a 3.49 goals-against average and a .889 save percentage in his last seven starts against the Penguins.
The Penguins could not solve Marc-Andre Fleury in a 3-0 shutout, Saturday. It was the first time this year the Penguins were shutout and despite the “goose egg,” they put forth a well-rounded effort. Neither team could score in the first period, especially the Penguins who mounted a siege against Vegas, but Fleury was up to the task. Fleury made a handful of stellar saves to prevent the scoreless tie from being broken. Two saves that stood out were a pad stop on Dominick Simon and cross-crease slide that prevented Patric Hornqvist from tallying a goal. Despite the Penguin’s best effort, the teams remained tied after the first period.
The second period wasn’t rewarding to the Penguins either as their efforts were canceled with more Fleury magic. Vegas capitalized on the momentum stolen by their goaltender to take the lead less than four minutes into the period. Paul Stastny (4) received a cross-ice feed from Cody Glass that he smoked home on the power play. The goal-scoring play was started by an impressive forecheck by Vegas after Erik Gudbranson and Sam Lafferty were caught flat-footed on a puck retrieval. The Penguins seized a chance to tie late in the period after a scramble around Fleury’s crease, but the whistle sounded before the Penguins could pot the puck. The play seemed to be blown dead prematurely as Fleury lost his helmet.
The third period saw the Penguins kicking their game into another gear but another series of Fleury saves doomed them. Defense Juuso Riikola had a chance to tie the game on the power play when he sent a one-timer toward an open net, but Fleury slid over from the left post to make the save with his left arm at 9:19 of the third period. The save appeared to deflate the Penguins the rest of the game, but their effort deserves praise. William Karlsson (1) and Mark Stone (6) added empty-net goals to ice the game.
Florida blew a two-goal lead in the third period but still escaped with a 3-2 shootout win against Nashville, Saturday. After a scoreless first period, Florida erupted in the second for two late goals five minutes apart. Denis Malgin (2) gave Florida a 1-0 lead at 13:33 of the second period on the power play, taking a cross-ice pass from Vincent Trocheck. Brett Connelly (4) scorched a shot from the point to extend the lead just before the period ended. After Roman Josi (3) and Kyle Turris (3) scored in the third period, the teams went to OT. Vincent Trocheck scored the only goal in the shootout for Florida, who has a point in five straight games. Pekka Rinne started for Nashville and made 28 saves while Sam Montembeault stopped 25 of 27 shots.
Matt Murray is 5-1-0 with a 2.16 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage in six career starts against Florida. He’s allowed two or fewer goals in four of his six starts and in each of his last three games against them.
Jake Guentzel has seven points in seven career games against Florida. In nine career regular-season games against goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, Guentzel has five goals and three assists.
Sunday was a day to remember for Penguins prospect Sam Poulin. The captain of the Sherbrooke Phoenix led his team to a 9-4 win over the Shawinigan Cataractes. Poulin finished with eight points (2G-6A) on the night, establishing a new franchise record for points in a single game, but it remains to be seen if he will get an NHL look.
Brian Dumoulin (IR)
Bryan Rust (Hand, LTIR, Traveling with team)
Zach Trotman (Sports Hernia, Re-assigned to WBS)
Evgeni Malkin (Lower Body, Long Term)
Nick Bjugstad (Lower Body but, traveling with team)
Alex Galchenyuk (Undisclosed, IR)
Jared McCann (Undisclosed)
Vincent Trocheck (Undisclosed, Will not Play)
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||23.7%, 4th NHL||77.4%, 27th NHL|
|New York Islanders||18.8%, 21st NHL||83.7%, 6th NHL|
Penguins, +117, -18, (O 6.5)
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jared McCann||Jeff Carter||Freddy Gaudreau|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Teddy Blueger||Brandon Tanev|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Mike Matheson||Cody Ceci|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|