The Pittsburgh Penguins (12-8-5) can win their fourth game in a row on Saturday when they host the Anaheim Ducks (15-8-5) at PPG Paints Arena. Anaheim is one of the surprise teams of the NHL season. Generally dismissed, Anaheim has been one of the best in the Pacific Division as rookie Trevor Zegras has made headlines and highlights.
For the Penguins, the game is the notorious trap game as the first one home after a long road trip. Traditionally, teams struggle in the first home game. The Penguins were 3-1-1 on the five-game trip after their impressive 4-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Friday night.
With their win over Washington, the Penguins solidified their wild-card playoff position, and their winning percentage is now good for the second-best wild-card position. Points-wise, the Penguins hold the top wild-card spot, two points ahead of the Detroit Red Wings and three points ahead of the Boston Bruins. Detroit has two games in hand, and Boston has three.
Casey DeSmith will likely get his second start this week for the Penguins. On Monday, he was in net for the 6-1 Penguins win over the Seattle Kraken.
What to Watch:
Back-to-back games are challenging for any team, but 24 hours after an intense division game and ending a five-game road trip, the Penguins energy level could be an issue.
Perhaps the first time in the third jersey will help. The Pittsburgh Penguins debut their retro third jersey on Saturday. The black sweater with diagonal Pittsburgh script was famous in the mid-90s as Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr piled up Art Ross trophies, and rapper Snoop Dogg wore it in the iconic Gin and Juice video.
DeSmith, 30, must build upon his solid performance against Seattle. His position is tenuous, and another rough outing will amplify questions about the Penguins’ goaltending depth.
One thing the Penguins did well on Friday against Washington was activating defensemen. Mike Matheson and John Marino had assists and pushed the puck into the offensive zone,
Anaheim is without Ryan Getzlaf, but rookie Trevor Zegras has 22 points (6-16-22). Zegras set up a goal that has gone viral as he “alley-ooped” a pass over the net to Sonny Milano, who batted it out of mid-air.
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 Ducks Lines, per PuckPedia.com:
|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
Position, Player, Status (Consecutive Games Missed, Total Games Missed)
F Evgeni Malkin, lower body (26 consecutive, 26 total)
F Bryan Rust, lower-body (7 consecutive, 14 total)
F Jake Guentzel, upper-body (1 consecutive, 2 total)
2021-22 Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 83
*The Penguins have points in nine of 11 games against Western Conference opponents this season (5-2-4).
*The Penguins are 2-3-0 in back-to-backs (2-1-0 on the first night; 0-2- 0 the second night).
*Sidney Crosby has multiple points in five of his last 11 games against the Ducks and 17 points overall during that stretch (6-11-17).
*The Penguins have seven players with six or more goals on their roster. Only the Florida Panthers (10) and Colorado Avalanche (8) have more players with six-plus goals this year.
*Sidney Crosby recorded his third-consecutive multi-point effort (2a). It was the 399th multi-point effort of his career, as he’s now one multi-point game shy of becoming the 14th player in NHL history to accumulate 400 multi-point performances.
Of the 13 players to accomplish this feat, 12 are enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame, with Jaromir Jagr being the lone exception (not yet eligible). Additionally, four of the 13 players – Jaromir Jagr, Mario Lemieux, Ron Francis, and Paul Coffey played for the Penguins at some point in their careers. Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Marcel Dionne, Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic, Phil Esposito, Ray Bourque, and Stan Mikita, the other players to accomplish this feat.
How to Watch:
TV: AT&T Sportsnet; Radio: 105.9 The X