TORONTO — The streak is over. The Pittsburgh Penguins (5-6-2) extinguished their worst winless streak of Sidney Crosby’s captaincy on Wednesday by beating the Washington Capitals, 4-1. The Penguins can stand taller and breathe easier, but they face a tough Canadian back-to-back on Friday and Saturday, beginning with the talented Toronto Maple Leafs (7-4-2) at Scotiabank Arena on Friday.
The puck drops just after 7 p.m.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now salutes veterans. Veterans Day is on Nov. 11 because WWI ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Canadians wear red poppies because of the John McCrae poem, inspired by the red flowers on the Flanders Fields, the site of one of the bloodiest WWI battles. Today is also Remembrance Day in Canada.
The Penguins held steady on Wednesday in the win over Washington, despite losing two defensemen. Jan Rutta and P.O Joseph left the game, leaving the Penguins with just four defensemen. Jeff Petry also appeared to injure himself and left the game for a few minutes, forcing center Jeff Carter to play defense for a couple of shifts.
Joseph’s injury is a lower body. Rutta absorbed a hard, high hit from Alex Ovechkin against the end wall and was being evaluated for an upper-body injury.
Coach Mike Sullivan said the team used the adversity as a “rallying cry,” and the Penguins held their third period lead.
The Penguins got significant offensive pressure from their third line of Brock McGinn, Jeff Carter, and Danton Heinen. Carter and McGinn teamed for McGinn’s second-period shorthanded goal.
Jake Guentzel, Jason Zucker, and Petry also scored, and Casey DeSmith stopped 24 of 25 shots in the potentially season-changing win.
Sullivan’s defense pairs juggling seemed to work until two were missing. Marcus Pettersson played a strong game with Kris Letang, and the pairing should continue.
The PK also killed all three Capitals’ power plays to raise its season total above 75%.
Update: the Penguins recalled defenseman Mark Friedman and sent Sam Poulin to the WBS Penguins. Joseph and Rutta were full participants at the morning skate.
Update 2: P.O Joseph skated with the scratches after the morning skate
Teddy Blueger is also eligible to be activated off LTIR. However, that move would force both Hallander and Poulin to the AHL without the salary cap space for a recall.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have a five-game point streak (3-0-2). They lost in OT to the Vegas Golden Knights, 4-3 on Tuesday but are finding their stride after early season struggles lead to calls for the jobs of both GM Kyle Dubas and coach Sheldon Keefe.
Philadelphia Flyers coach John Tortorella admonished the Toronto media before a game on Nov. 2, “I hope (Keefe) sticks it to you.”
Mitch Marner leads the Maple Leafs with 16 points (3-13-16), and John Tavares leads the Maple Leafs with eight goals. Rocket Richard trophy winner Auston Matthews is off to a “slow” start with 14 points (6-8-14) in 14 games.
Both Toronto goalies Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov are injured, so a pair of minor-league goalies will suit up. Erik Kallgren is the likely starter. The team had to purchase backup goalie Keith Petruzelli’s contract from the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
*Lines will be updated after the Penguins morning skate
Expected Maple Leafs Lines, per Puckpedia.com:
Penguins Power Play: 9-48, 18.8%, 22nd
Penguins Penalty Kill: 11-45, 75.6%, 22nd
Maple Leafs Power Play: 12-48, 25%, 9th
Maple Leafs Penalty Kill: 12-50, 76%, 21st
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
*The Penguins play the Maple Leafs three times this season, with all of them taking place in November over their next nine games. Toronto visits Pittsburgh on Nov. 15.
*Last season against the Maple Leafs, Kasperi Kapanen (3A) and Marcus Pettersson (1-2-3) led the Penguins with three points in three games.
*Kris Letang has 10 points (1-9-10) in his last 11 games against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
*Guentzel Watch: Since April 12 of last season, Jake Guentzel has 14 goals and 25 points (14-11-25) in his last 16 games.
*Evgeni Malkin is second in the league for takeaways with 22, trailing only Carolina’s Jacob Slavin (24).
*Sidney Crosby is one point shy of tying Bryan Trottier for 17th on the NHL’s all-time scoring list.
*In 40 games, Evgeni Malkin has 23 goals, 42 assists and 65 points against Toronto.
How to Watch the Penguins Game:
Radio: 105.9 The X