The Pittsburgh Penguins (7-6-1) ups and downs in a middling first-quarter season continued on Tuesday night when the Washington Capitals soundly beat the Penguins 3-1. Two days after their best performance of the season, the Penguins handed in homework that looked like the dog indeed tried to eat it. Thursday, the Penguins host the always difficult New York Islanders (8-4-3) at PPG Paints Arena.
After a sluggish start, New York vaulted itself into second place in the MassMutual East Division. The Penguins are currently in fifth place, two points behind the Washington Capitals for fourth place. The Penguins are perilously in fifth place, as the New Jersey Devils trail by only three points but have four games in hand.
The Penguins need points against New York.
“They’re a 200-foot team. They play the game up and down the ice,” Penguins forward Brandon Tanev said. “They’re very stingy. They play really good D and don’t give too many odd-man rushes…”
This season the Penguins are 1-1-0 against New York. The Penguins lost 4-3 in regulation, then won 4-3 via shootout.
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What to Watch
Turnovers, turnovers, mistakes, and turnovers. The New York Islanders have a long-standing policy under Barry Trotz of waiting for the Pittsburgh Penguins to make mistakes. New York will wait out the Penguins unless the Penguins get a lead.
Even then, New York will be patient.
The Penguins ended Tuesday night with shuffled defense pairs and scrambled lines. Will Penguins coaches Mike Sullivan, and Todd Reirden keep P-O Joseph on the third pair or return him to the top pair Kris Letang? Marcus Pettersson took the left side of the top pairing in the second half of the Tuesday night loss to Washington.
Can the Penguins be gritty?
Washington was chippy and more physical than the Penguins on Tuesday. As teams settle into the season, physicality will play a bigger role, especially in the crash-bang East Division. New York still possesses the best fourth line in hockey with Cal Clutterbuck, Matt Martin, and Casey Czikas. The Penguins can’t allow the New York fourth line to dominate the Penguins subpar bottom trio.
Can Zach Aston-Reese and the Penguins third line continue their offensive hot streak? Aston-Reese has three goals in three straight games since returning from offseason shoulder surgery.
Pittsburgh Penguins Betting
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This season, PHN is 8-7. We whiffed on the OVER for Tuesday night. The Penguins sure hit a few posts then didn’t challenge again. Call us a sucker for the OVER this season, but with the Islanders, the O/U is only 5.5. We’ll take that.
Here’s another interesting bet that MGM offers — .5 spread in the first period. A $10 bet on the Islanders in the opening period will net $28. Done. Take it until the Penguins prove they can start well. New York has outscored opponents 19-11 in the first period.
Pittsburgh Penguins Lines & Special Teams
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Jared McCann||Evan Rodrigues|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Frederick Gaudreau||Sam Lafferty|
|Radim Zohorna||Mark Jankowski||Colton Sceviour|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Mike Matheson||Cody Ceci|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Leo Komarov||Mathew Barzal||Jordan Eberle|
|Anthony Beauvillier||Brock Nelson||Josh Bailey|
|Kieffer Bellows||J-G Pageau||Oliver Wahlstrom|
|Matt Martin||Casey Czikas||Cal Clutterbuck|
|Adam Pelech||Ryan Pulock|
|Nick Leddy||Scott Mayfield|
|Thomas Hickey||Andy Greene|
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||(25 for 117) 21.4% 14th NHL||(93 for 122) 76.2% T-24th NHL|
|New Jersey Devils||(16 for 112) 14.3% 28th NHL||(79 for 109) 72.5% 31st NHL|
Four Penguins have begun a skating program, including Brian Dumoulin and Jared McCann.
Position, Player (Consecutive Games Missed, Total Games Missed)
D Zach Trotman (14 consecutive, 14 total)
F Sam Miletic (14 consecutive, 14 total)
D Juuso Riikola (10 consecutive, 10 total)
F Evan Rodrigues (8 consecutive, 8 total)
D Brian Dumoulin (7 consecutive, 7 total)
F Jared McCann (3 consecutive, 3 total)
2020-21 Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 86
Penguins Game Notes
The Penguins have points in seven of its last eight games against New York (4-1-3) and is 7-3-3 over its last 13 games versus the Islanders.
The Penguins’ top line of Jake Guentzel, Sidney Crosby, and Bryan Rust has been on fire. They have accounted for 40% of the Penguins goals this month (6/15) and have combined for 16 points in five games.
Teddy Blueger has eight points (2g, 6a) which rank fourth on the team. He is a plus-3, which is third-best.
Five of the last six regular-season games between the two teams have gone past regulation.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau has five goals in the last six games, including five in the last four consecutive.
Penguins How to Watch
AT&T SportsNet, NHLN
Radio: 105.9 The X