In what could be considered a mild surprise, backup goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic will get the start Tuesday night for the Pittsburgh Penguins when they host the Dallas Stars. In addition, defenseman John Ludvig will make his team and NHL debut.
It will be Nedeljkovic’s second start of the season and with the Penguins. He got the win Oct. 14 against Calgary, stopping 34 shots.
Tristan Jarry, the No. 1 goalie, has started the other four games, going 1-3.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan indicated that giving Nedeljkovic the start is a matter of working with the schedule.
“We look at our schedule. We’re trying to manage the workloads of both goaltenders, and we believe we have two quality goaltenders that can both give us an opportunity to win,” Sullivan said.
The Penguins signed Nedeljkovic, 27, as a free agent during the offseason with the intent that he become Jarry’s backup.
Nedeljkovic’s start comes on the heels of two straight losses by the Penguins, including a 4-2 defeat Saturday at St. Louis that had coach Mike Sullivan fuming and the players agitated.
Jarry would stand to be in line to start Thursday when the undefeated Colorado Avalanche visit.
Ludvig apparently will slot in on the third defensive pairing, believed to be alongside Ryan Shea. The Penguins claimed Ludvig, 23, off waivers from Florida on the eve of the regular season.
“I think he’s a steady, solid defensive defenseman,” Sullivan said of Ludvig. “I think he’s going to bring us some grit in the battle areas. I think he’s strong at the net-front. He defends well. He skates well. He has a good stick.”
Nedeljkovic and Tristan Jarry both participated in what was a fairly well attended optional morning skate Tuesday at PPG Paints Arena. The only players who did not participate were forwards Drew O’Connor, Bryan Rust, Reilly Smith, Lars Eller, Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby, and defensemen Marcus Pettersson, Kris Letang and Erik Karlsson.