The Pittsburgh Penguins (29-14-3) boat raced the New Jersey Devils (14-25-6) for 40 minutes on Tuesday night. The Penguins had a seemingly insurmountable 6-0 lead before they went to sleep and hung on for a 7-6 regulation win. The Penguins game left fans and even head coach Mike Sullivan a little bit speechless. The Devils and Penguins meet for the second of their three-game set on Thursday at 7 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena.
Tuesday night, Sullivan admitted he didn’t know how to react. On Wednesday, he gathered the team at center ice for a little chat.
“We’ve had a discussion with the players on our thoughts and how we can improve and what we can learn from (Tuesday’s game) so that type of circumstance doesn’t happen again,” Sullivan said afterward.
The Penguins did win the game, and those two points went a long way to reducing their magic points number over the New York Rangers to just 12.
Sullivan will return Tristan Jarry to the net. Jarry was very good for the first 40 minutes but was part of why the Penguins handed New Jersey a six-spot in the third period.
New Jersey is 2-11-2 in their last 15 games.
Both the Penguins and New York Rangers play on Thursday night. Should the Penguins beat New Jersey and Philadelphia beat New York, the Penguins’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot would shrink to eight points.
UPDATE: The Pittsburgh Penguins activated RW Kasperi Kapanen from IR on Thursday afternoon. Kapanen is expected to be in the lineup.
In the corresponding move, the Penguins demoted Anthony Angello to the WBS Penguins of the AHL.
Kapanen was a full participant at practice on Wednesday.
Get the latest Penguins betting odds and “no brainer” bets for tonight’s game.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines and Special Teams
|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|
Expected New Jersey Devils Lines
|Janne Kuokkanen||Jack Hughes||Yegor Sherangovich|
|Andreas Johnsson||Nico Hischier||Marian Studenic|
|Miles Wood||Michael MCleod||Nathan Bastian|
|Nolan Foote||Mikhail Maltsev||Nick Merkley|
|Ryan Murray||Damon Severson|
|Wil Butcher||P.K. Subban|
|Jonas Siegenthaler||Matt Tenison|
|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|
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
Position, Player (Consecutive Games Missed, Total Games Missed)
Evgeni Malkin (17 consecutive, 17 total)
Kasperi Kapanen (13 consecutive, 13 total)
Brandon Tanev (8 consecutive, 14 total)
Frederick Gaudreau (4 consecutive, 4 total)
2020-21 Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 240
*The Penguins have points in five consecutive games against the Devils (4-0-1).
*Overall, the Penguins have earned points in 13 of their last 16 games overall (11-3-2).
*Bryan Rust has points in eight consecutive games (5g, 7a) against the Devils and has points in 10 of his last 11 games (7g, 7a) overall versus New Jersey.
*Defenseman Kris Letang has 14 points (2g, 12a) over his last 14 games.
*Mike Matheson has 10 points (3g, 7a) over his last 11 games.
*Remember those awful starts? The Penguins have a league-best 49 first-period goals.
*The Penguins defensemen have scored22 goals at even strength, which tied for third-most in the NHL.
What to Watch
Will the Penguins have a third-period hangover? Will the Devils be on the charge as a carryover? Did the historic third period on Tuesday night rattle Tristan Jarry?
The Penguins played brilliantly in the first 30 minutes. They pushed the puck down low, which almost immediately opened up the New Jersey defensive zone coverage. The Penguins converted greasy chances and rush chances.
New Jersey couldn’t get within a Meadowlands swamp of the Penguins net.
Until it all changed.
Watch the Penguins return to the simple, greasy, grimy style that cracked New Jersey on Tuesday. Hard play in the corners, low-to-high in the offensive zone, get to the net.
That’s our bet.
How to Watch, 7 p.m.:
TV: AT&T SportsNet;
Radio: 105.9 The X