There are two more games until the week-long break that is the remnant of the canceled three-week NHL Olympic break. The Pittsburgh Penguins are coasting on fumes to the break with points in their last eight games (6-0-2), but decreasing levels of play and lack of energy have cost the Penguins the last two games against inferior opponents.
Sunday, the Penguins host the LA Kings at PPG Paints Arena. The puck drops just after 1 p.m. for the second-place Penguins, which trail the Carolina Hurricanes by at least one point. Carolina has three games in hand.
Friday night, the Penguins finished another set of back-to-back games with a lackluster 3-2 shootout loss to the fading Detroit Red Wings. The Penguins earned a point, just as they did the night before, with a 3-2 OT loss to the Seattle Kraken.
The Pittsburgh Penguins had to rally for OT in each case after coasting through the first part of the game. However, the Penguins did find some energy against Detroit after head coach Mike Sullivan shuffled the lines in the second period.
“We’re trying to find combinations that are going to help us win. And so if the coaching staff feels as though it’s stale and we’re not getting production, and we’re not getting any sort of traction from some of the lines, then we’re going to be proactive, and we’re going to move people around,” Sullivan said.
Kasperi Kapanen and Danton Heinen dropped to the fourth line with center Brian Boyle. The line had more success than either winger had with Evgeni Malkin, who played with Brock McGinn and Evan Rodrigues. The Malkin line also had more success after the changes, but overall, the Penguins created just four high-danger chances in the bottom three lines.
The Penguins’ top line with Sidney Crosby, Bryan Rust, and Jake Guentzel provided the offense. The line scored the only Penguins even-strength goal and had 11 high-danger chances.
The bright spot was backup goalie Casey DeSmith who was stellar. DeSmith has struggled to find a groove this season. With new pads, better “juju,” and a bit of urgency, DeSmith kept the Penguins in the game.
EARLIER THIS MONTH, the LA Kings crunched the Penguins 6-2 during the Penguins’ recent west coast road trip. The Penguins were never in the Jan. 13 contest and allowed 45 shots on goal.
The LA Kings lost to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night, 4-3 in OT. The Flyers’ win snapped a 13-game losing streak. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick stopped 32 of 36.
Tristan Jarry is the likely starter for the Penguins. Jarry has carried the second-heaviest workload in the NHL with 35 appearances. Jarry has a .926 save percentage and a low 2.11 GAA. Cal Peterson likely starts for LA. In 17 games, Peterson is 10-6-1 with a .901 save percentage.
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|
Penguins Betting Odds:
First, DraftKings is offering their insane 56-1 odds promotion again this weekend for NFL betting. Get it by clicking here: Draftkings promo.
Oddsmakers don’t like the Penguins chances to cover on Sunday. Depending on how you feel, it could be a good bet:
Puckline: Penguins -1.5 (+125), Kings +1.5 (-145)
Moneyline: Penguins (-200), Kings (+170)
O/U 6: Over (+100), Under (-120)
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:
*The Penguins PK slippage continued on Friday. The unit has fallen to 87.9% (2nd, NHL). The Penguins’ power play has climbed to 18th, at 19.7%. LA’s power play ranks 24th and the PK 28th.
F Drew O’Connor, upper-body (7 consecutive, 10 total), F Jason Zucker, lower-body (6 consecutive, 13 total), G Louis Domingue, lower-body (6 consecutive, 6 total), F Teddy Blueger, upper-body (3 consecutive, 4 total),
Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 158
*The Penguins have points in six straight games (4-0-2) versus Los Angeles and are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games at home against them.
*The Penguins have points in 18 of 22 games against Western Conference opponents this season (13-4-5).
*The Penguins have just two regulation losses in their last 21 games, going 17-2-2 since Dec. 4. Pittsburgh’s 17 wins in that stretch only trail Colorado (19) for most in the NHL.
*They also have points in 10-straight home games 8-0-2.
*The Penguins’ 10 wins in January are a club record for this month.
How to Watch:
TV: AT&T Sportsnet; Radio: 105.9 The X