The Pittsburgh Penguins (10-6-4) are rolling. Goalie Tristan Jarry is stopping almost everything, including 141 of the last 143 shots he’s faced and has three shutouts in the last five games.
However, Penguins backup goalie Casey DeSmith will likely start Saturday night when the Penguins host the hapless Montreal Canadiens (5-15-2) at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins shut down and shut out the rival New York Islanders on Friday night. It was the Penguins fifth straight win. Kasperi Kapanen scored the only goal when he kept the puck on a two-on-one and ripped a far-post wrister past Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin.
Sidney Crosby and Brock McGinn led the Penguins with four shots. Zach Aston-Reese led with six hits. Jarry stopped all 25 shots he faced as the Penguins delivered an eighth straight loss to the Islanders.
Penguins winger Bryan Rust did not play Friday night, and it appears he reaggravated his lower-body injury or has a new one. He left warmups after skating briefly.
What to Watch:
The second of back-to-backs is always a more challenging game, and the Pittsburgh Penguins must summon the energy against a team that often lacks energy.
Our colleagues in Montreal chided the team for “quitting” in a horrific 4-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night.
Things are ugly with a capital U in Montreal. Which Canadiens team will show up, and will the Penguins overlook them?
DeSmith has not won a game this season. He is 0-2-1 with a rough .856 save percentage. The Penguins need DeSmith to be better. Montreal had good looks against Jarry during the teams’ previous meeting about 10 days ago. Jarry earned a shutout, but the game could have been much different if one or two had hit the net.
DeSmith needs to be NHL quality on Saturday night…unless coaches ride Jarry again.
Otherwise, the Penguins figure to have their way with Montreal. The Penguins are faster, have more talent, and have more structure.
Montreal is hurting without the very best version of Carey Price to bail them out, and it looks like they’re quitting on themselves and coach Dominique Ducharme.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Rickard Rakell||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jason Zucker||Jeff Carter||Danton Heinen|
|Brock McGinn||Teddy Blueger||Evan Rodrigues|
|Mike Matheson||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Mark Friedman||Chad Ruhwedel|
Expected Montreal Canadiens Lines, Per PuckPedia.com:
Jake Allen/Sam Montembeault
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||15.1% (11-73) 27th NHL||92.2% (5-64) 1st NHL|
|Anaheim Ducks||26.3% (20-76) 5th NHL||86.3% (10-76) 3rd NHL|
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:
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*The Penguins have points in 10 of its last 12 games against Montreal (9-2-1). Going back further, the Penguins are 11-3-1 in their last 15 games versus Montreal.
*Following tonight’s game, the Penguins will embark on their annual trip to Western Canada and visit Seattle for the first time in a week-long, four-game road trip.
*If Casey DeSmith gets the start tonight, it will be the third of his career versus the Canadiens. In two starts, he is 1-0-1 with a 2.88 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage.
*Jake Guentzel has a career-long eight-game points streak (5-4-9).
*Guentzel’s streak is tied with New York Rangers forward Ryan Strome for the longest active streak in the NHL.
*Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has recorded 53 points (20G-33A) in 41 career games against the Montreal Canadiens.
*In 13 career games vs. Montreal, Jason Zucker has nine goals and 12 points.
How to Watch:
TV: AT&T Sportsnet, Sportsnet, TVA; Radio: 105.9 The X