The Pittsburgh Penguins (3-6-0) open a three-game California swing Saturday with a game in San Jose against the Sharks (0-9-1). The Penguins have lost five of their past six. The woeful Sharks are coming off a 10-1 home loss against Vancouver.
Penguins Game Time
The game starts a little after 10 p.m. Eastern.
After a disappointing start, the Penguins are in the precarious position of needing to beat the woeful Sharks to avoid an expected storm of backlash if they are the first team to lost to San Jose.
“They’re an NHL club that’s going to be very hungry,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.
Penguins defenseman Erik Karlsson and forward Matt Nieto return to face their former club, while Penguins captain Sidney Crosby will be playing in his 1,200th career game. Karlsson had 101 points and won the Norris Trophy last season with San Jose.
The Penguins are expected to make one change in their lines, one that might make their fan base happy. Fourth-line right winger Jeff Carter apparently will be scratched in favor of Vinnie Hinostroza, who will make his Penguins debut.
Kingerski: Sullivan Sends Message, ‘We’re Not Satisfied’
Molinari: Sullivan: Karlsson’s Capable of Lifting His Game to ‘Another Level’
San Jose has been outscored 45-10 in its 10 games and could come out like an injured and enraged bear.
“It’s embarrassing to have the record we have,” Sharks coach David Quinn said.
Adding injury to insult, No. 1 goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen looks to be out because of an undisclosed injury. The Sharks have recalled Magnus Chrona, and Mackenzie Blackwood is expected to start.
San Jose defenseman Jan Rutta will be facing his former club, the Penguins.
Expected Penguins lines
Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Bryan Rust
Reilly Smith-Evgeni Malkin-Rickard Rakell
Drew O’Connor-Lars Eller-Radim Zohorna
Matt Nieto-Noel Acciari-Vinnie Hinostroza
Ryan Graves-Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson-Erik Karlsson
Ryan Shea-Chad Ruhwedel
Expected San Jose Sharks Lines
Fabian Zetterlund-Tomas Hertl-Anthony Duclair
William Eklund-Mikael Granlund-Luke Kunin
Filip Zadina-Nico Sturm-Mike Hoffman
Giovani Smith-Ryan Carpenter-Jacob MacDonald
Mario Ferraro-Ty Emberson
Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Kyle Burroughs
Nikita Okhotiuk-Jan Rutta
(Kaapo Kahkonen injured)
Penguins special teams
Penguins power play: 14.8%, tied for 21st
Penguins penalty kill: 82.1%, 12th
Sharks power play: 14.8%, tied for 21st
Sharks penalty kill: 69.2%, 31st
Penguins Game Notes
Evgeni Malkin (5 goals, 6 assists) leads the Penguins with 11 points, followed by Sidney Crosby (5 goals, 5 assists) with 10 points and Jake Guentzel (2 goals, 7 assists) with nine points. Bryan Rust is tied for the goals lead with five.
The Penguins are 10-12-4 in San Jose but have won two in a row at SAP Center.
The Penguins are winning faceoffs at a 56.9% clip, best in the NHL. The Sharks (54.6%) rank second.
Rust has five goals, 10 points in 10 career games against San Jose.
Guentzel is one goal shy of 200 for his career.
How to Watch the Penguins Game
TV: SportsNet Pittsburgh
Radio: 105.9 The X
Also: Follow the Sharks at sister site San Jose Hockey Now.