Penguins vs. Ducks, Game 51: Lines, Notes & How to Watch
ANAHEIM, Calif. — This would, at first blush, appear to be precisely the kind of opponent the Pittsburgh Penguins should be happy to face tonight.
One that isn’t contending for anything except a lofty spot in the 2023 draft order, and that the Penguins defeated just a few weeks ago.
The reality, though, is that, despite being marooned near the bottom of the overall standings, Anaheim is 5-1-1 in its past seven games and has several gifted young players, headlined by Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry, on its payroll.
The Ducks’ still-developing talent and willingness to compete was evident in a 4-3 Penguins overtime victory at PPG Paints Arena Jan. 16, and the Penguins are prepared to see both again when they face Anaheim at 10:08 p.m. Eastern at Honda Center.
“They have so much skill,” Jason Zucker said. “They can hurt us in so many different ways. We didn’t take them (lightly) the last time, and it was a heck of a game.”
The Penguins (25-16-9) hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference playoff field. They and the New York Islanders each have 59 points, but the Penguins have played five (yes, five) fewer games than New York.
The Penguins have played just 50 games, fewest of any Metropolitan Division team. That means they’ll have an opportunity to pad their lead over the likes of the Florida, Buffalo and Philadelphia, but only if those extra games translate into additional points.
“Every point is so important to us,” Sidney Crosby said. “We’re not looking by anybody, regardless of where they are in the standings. We know how important the games are.”
That appeared to register with the Penguins after two periods of their 2-1 overtime victory against Colorado at home Tuesday.
After sputtering through the first couple of periods, the Penguins elevated their game to defeat the defending Stanley Cup champions and give them some momentum coming out of the all-star break.
“It helps,” Crosby said. “We finished that third period the way we thought we could play. Coming off a tough loss before the break (6-4 at home to San Jose), it’s nice to start right. … We want to build off the last game, make sure we’re getting better. We have to be better, just like a lot of teams. We have to find another level of our game.”
And do it no later than this evening.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
Expected Anaheim Ducks Lines, per Puckpedia.com
Penguins power play: 39 for 173, 22.5%, 15th
Penguins penalty-kill: 30 for 163, 81.6%, 8th
Ducks power play: 24 for 151, 15.9%, 30th
Ducks penalty-kill: 48 for 181, 73.5%, 28th
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
Sidney Crosby enters the game with an eight-game points streak, the second-longest on the team this season.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are 5-7 against Pacific Division opponents, their only losing mark against any division.
Evgeni Malkin, who is two points shy of 1,200 in his career, has had two or more points in five of his past eight games.
Jake Guentzel has six goals in seven career games against the Ducks.
The Penguins’ power play is 8-for-20 over the past seven games.
Reputed Penguins-killer Frank Vatrano has nine goals and four assists in 17 career regular-season games against them.
It probably is in the Penguins’ interest to try to finish this game in 60 minutes, considering that Anaheim has earned seven of its 17 victories while playing 3-on-3 in overtime.
The Ducks haven’t had much of a home-ice advantage this season, going 9-13-1 at Honda Center.
When Anaheim loses, it often does it in a big way. The Ducks are 2-21 in games decided by three or more goals.
Anaheim has been trailing at the second intermission in six of its 17 victories. The remarkable thing about that is that the Ducks have been outscored, 70-41, in the third period.
How to Watch
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 105.9 the X