The Pittsburgh Penguins (28-19-7) are locked and loaded for some big game hunting as they face the Tampa Bay Lightning (39-11-4) at Amalie Arena, tonight. Tampa Bay is still the crown jewel of the NHL with the best record of all 31 teams but has lost two straight games in overtime. The Penguins seek a win tonight that can provide the spark to another late season run.
The Penguins are 1-3 thus far this month and exhibited incomplete efforts the last three games; tonight they can right the ship both record and mojo wise.
The Metropolitan Division logjam continues. Teams once thought dead have shaken off their death rattle and are now playing some sterling hockey. Carolina continues to slice through the Metro to the tune of a 6-3-1 record in their last ten games and has won three straight. Carolina trails the Penguins by just one point for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The windshield is larger than the rear view mirror for a reason, but the Penguins should be taking a few glances behind them as a storm is surging.
Fortunately, the Penguins only trail the top place Islanders by five points. The Penguins give the net to Casey DeSmith tonight despite Matt Murray returning from a short injury. There is also more positive news on the injury front as reinforcements seem on the way.
Tampa Bay is likely to turn to Andre Vasilevskiy in net. Vasilevskiy has a 21-7-4 record with a 2.39 goals-against and a .927 save percentage.
The Penguins could not prevent their third straight loss but were able to earn a point against Florida with a 3-2 OT loss, Thursday. The Penguins showed resiliency by rallying from deficits twice in the game but couldn’t seal the deal in the extra period. The game featured players burning their former teams as Jared McCann (9) ripped a shorthanded goal his first goal as a Penguin and former Penguins Riley Sheahan and Derick Brassard each collected an assist to help Florida to a win.
Florida kicked off the scoring in the first period just six minutes into the game when Evgenii Dadonov (19) found the back of the net. After the Penguins and Florida traded goals in the second period, the Penguins came out of the intermission with purpose. Marcus Petersson (1) scored his first goal of the season to tie the game but the Penguins experienced a defensive lapse in OT. Florida capitalized on the mistake as Mike Matheson (5) got behind Phil Kessel to give his team the 2nd point.
Casey DeSmith started in net while Tristian Jarry backed up in the absence of injured Matt Murray. DeSmith was bombarded as he saved 39 of 42 shots. Roberto Luongo started for Florida and stopped 28 shots for his 11th win.
Center Sidney Crosby played his 915th NHL game against Florida, tying Mario Lemieux for most in Pittsburgh history. Crosby will set the record when the Penguins face Tampa Bay, tonight.
Tampa Bay’s offense was unusually quiet against St Louis in a 1-0 loss in OT, Thursday. Brayden Schenn scored the only goal of the game with under a minute left in the extra period. Jordan Binnington started in net for St Louis and saved all 32 shots directed his way. Andre Vasileskiy saved 38 shots for Tampa Bay.
Despite the Penguins being active around the trade deadline in past seasons, GM Jim Rutherford feels no pressure to swing more deals. Rutherford’s phone has been active already this season in acquiring Tanner Pearson, Marcus Petersson, Nick Bjugstad, and Jared McCann.
Justin Schultz (Fractured Leg. IR. Practicing)
Zach Aston-Reese (IR. Skating.)
Evgeni Malkin (Hand, Out)
2018-19 Man-Games Lost: 80
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||12.5% (12th NHL)||80.0% (9th NHL)|
|New York Islanders||20.0% (8th NHL)||87.5% (4th NHL)|
|Jared McCann||Sidney Crosby||Jake Guentzel|
|Bryan Rust||Evgeni Malkin||Phil Kessel|
|Dominik Simon||Nick Bjugstad||Patric Hornqvist|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Matt Cullen||Garrett Wilson|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Jack Johnson||Justin Schultz|
|Marcus Pettersson||Erik Gudbranson|