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Penguins Game 5: Guentzel Out; What to Watch vs. Blue Jackets

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Pittsburgh Penguins Game vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Pittsburgh Penguins won’t have first-line left winger Jake Guentzel when they face Columbus tonight at 7:08 at Nationwide Arena.

Mike Sullivan confirmed after the team’s optional game-day skate that Guentzel, who was struck on the right side of the face by a puck during their 6-1 victory against Los Angeles two days ago, will not be in the lineup.

The Penguins plan to dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen, which means Chad Ruhwedel will be in uniform for the first time this season.

Sullivan did not rule out using one of those defensemen up front.

The 11 players participating in the skate were Tristan Jarry — who will get the start in goal — Casey DeSmith, Jeff Carter, Brock McGinn, Marcus Pettersson, Jeff Petry, Ryan Poehling, Rickard Rakell, P.O Joseph, Ruhwedel and Teddy Blueger, who has not been cleared for contact.

The Penguins (3-0-1) can’t really make up for the production of Guentzel, a two-time 40-goal man who has scored 10 times in 18 career regular-season games against Columbus, if he’s not able to play, but they have at least one potential source of offense that has gone largely untapped through the first four games of the season.

For while third-line right winger Kasperi Kapanen has significantly upgraded his overall game, compared to last season, he hasn’t been much of a factor in the offense.

He scored a goal in the opener against Arizona, but then went shotless in the two games that followed, before recording just one against the Kings.

Kapanen skates well and has a good release and shot, and is capable of contributing 25 goals. That will be tough to do, though, if he only averages a half-shot per game, as he has so far.

One group that has made regular contributions to the offense is the Penguins’ defense corps.

After failing to get a goal in the first three games, it chipped in with two (by Jan Rutta and Jeff Petry) against Los Angeles. The Penguins also have gotten 13 assists from their blue line, making it the second-most productive defense corps in the league, behind only Colorado (16 points).

The Blue Jackets’ primary source of scoring has been right winger Johnny Gaudreau, who leads them in goals (four) and points (six). Columbus’ offense has been hurt by an injury to winger Patrik Laine and the inability of forwards like Boone Jenner and Yegor Chinakhov to manufacture a goal in the first five games.

Gaudreau’s decision to sign with the Blue Jackets (2-3) as a free agent this summer surprised a lot of people in the hockey universe and inspired a wave of optimism around the franchise. It’s even possible that, given the proximity of Pittsburgh and Columbus, the Blue Jackets and Penguins will develop a serious rivalry.

To this point, though, things have been quite lopsided in the Penguins’ favor. They won all four meetings last season and are 15-3-1 in the past 19.

Pittsburgh Penguins Lines (if Guentzel is out):

Heinen-Crosby-Rakell

Zucker-Malkin-Rust

McGinn-Carter-Kapanen

Poehling-Archibald

Defense:

Dumoulin-Letang

Pettersson-Petry

Joseph-Rutta

Ruhwedel

Goalies:

Jarry

DeSmith

Columbus Blue Jackets Lines:

Nyqvist-Jenner-Gaudreau

Johnson-Sillinger-Voracek

Danforth-Roslovic-Chinakhov

Robinson-Kuraly-Olivier

Defense:

Werenski-Blankenburg

Gavrikov-Peeke

Bean-Gudbranson

Goalies:

Merzlikins

Tarasov

Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:

* The Penguins have scored three or more goals in 13 of their past 16 games against Columbus, and four or more in 10 of those. Predictably, Sidney Crosby’s fingerprints are all over that stat: He has 13 goals and 30 assists in 34 career games against the Blue Jackets.

* Columbus lost its first three games of the season, but has won its past two, both of which were at home.

* The Penguins’ fan base usually has been well-represented in games at Nationwide Arena, particularly in those seasons when the Blue Jackets’ ticket sales were less than brisk. Whether that support has been a factor in how games here have played out can be debated, but the Pittsburgh Penguins’ all-time record at Nationwide is 13-6-4.

  • The Penguins still haven’t issued a coach’s challenge of an official’s decision this season, after going 7-for-7 on them in 2021-22.

* Evgeni Malkin, who has three goals and two assists, is the only Penguins player to get on the scoresheet in each of the first four games this season.

* The Penguins are scheduled to fly to Edmonton after the game for the second stop on this season-long five-game trip. They will face the Oilers Monday night.

How to Watch:

TV: AT&T SportsNet; Radio: 105.9 The X

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Frank
Frank
1 month ago

Kapanen really needs to find work that he is interested in doing. If he performed like he does for the Penguins in any other job he would have been sent packing long ago. $3 million plus for his “contributions?” Hextall could find 30 guys who would be an upgrade for half the price and create cap space. If he has not become NHL worthy after 5 years it is not going to happen. Why does it feel like no other GM wants to pay for skills he does his best to conceal 80% of the season?

Jeff Young
Jeff Young
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

I still don’t get the contract they gave him. If they wanted to give him one, it should have been for way less. smh.

Although I think he’s pretty good in those Getgo commercials.

cacastine
cacastine
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff Young

How would they have given him way less? Explain how that would have worked with an RFA on the last phase of restriction?

Jeff Young
Jeff Young
1 month ago
Reply to  cacastine

I guess you offer way less and, if he doesn’t take it, let him walk. Just because he’s RFA doesn’t mean you have to sign him, does it? Lots of folks were pining about ERod. At this point, it doesn’t matter but I don’t expect more than what he’s given in recent years.

cacastine
cacastine
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

How is a guy who had 32 points not NHL worthy? Really going to have to see people whine about this all year again? There is no team with all perfect players and perfect matching contracts. Give it up.

Pete
Pete
1 month ago

No joke, they literally put the classic D – pair, Pete and Repeat, out there together. Make me a milkshake, Malkin !

Uros
Uros
1 month ago

Oh, I can’t wait to see all the hate for Letang in the comments once this is over.