The stretch drive begins. The Pittsburgh Penguins (28-14-3) game has been void of offense, and they need goals and wins to firm up their spot in the East Division. They will face the youngest team in the NHL, the New Jersey Devils (14-24-6), who have lost six in a row on Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins are three points out of first place, but only four points ahead of the Boston Bruins for fourth place, and Boston has two games in hand.
The Penguins have recently had trouble scoring goals. After scoring four or more goals in six straight games, the Penguins have scored only six goals in the last three games, including a 4-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday afternoon.
The Penguins didn’t get their second goal until the waning seconds of the deciding game on Sunday. Otherwise, that offensive total would be a paltry five goals.
“I think it’s just a matter of luck right now. When stuff like this happens, you just got to keep working, and eventually, you’ll get rewarded with bounces,” said Penguins winger Zach Aston-Reese.
The Penguins won’t get Evgeni Malkin or Kasperi Kapanen back on Tuesday, but a return might be soon. Malkin and Kapanen skated with the team on Tuesday morning. PHN published exclusive video of Malkin skating with the taxi squad.
New Jersey is in the midst of a free fall which has placed them within reach of the Buffalo Sabres at the bottom of the East Division and the NHL standings. New Jersey is 2-10-2 over their last 14 games.
Head coach Mike Sullivan will put Tristan Jarry in the net. Since Feb. 14, Jarry has a .935 save percentage at 5v5 and a 1.97 GAA. Overall, Jarry is 18-8-3 with a .910 save percentage and a 2.74 GAA.
MacKenzie Blackwood was injured in a net-front collision on Sunday, so Scott Wedgewood will start for New Jersey.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines & Special Teams
|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 New Jersey Devils Lines
|Janne Kuokkanen||Jack Hughes||Yegor Sherangovich|
|Andreas Johnsson||Nico Hischier||Marian Studenic|
|Miles Wood||Michael MCleod||Nathan Bastian|
|Nolan Foote||Mikhail Maltsev||Nick Merkley|
|Ryan Murray||Damon Severson|
|Wil Butcher||P.K. Subban|
|Jonas Siegenthaler||Matt Tenison|
|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 (Consecutive Games Missed, Total Games Missed)
Evgeni Malkin (16 consecutive, 16 total)
Kasperi Kapanen (12 consecutive, 12 total)
Brandon Tanev (7 consecutive, 13 total)
Frederick Gaudreau (3 consecutive, 3 total)
2020-21 Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 236
*The Penguins are 6-2-1 in their last nine games against New Jersey dating back to Feb. 19, 2019. However, New Jersey has won two games this season.
*The Penguins are 3-0-1 in their last four against New Jersey.
*The Penguins have allowed two or fewer goals in nine of their last 10 home games.
*Cody Ceci has five assists in his last six games.
*Without Evgeni Malkin in the lineup this season, Sidney Crosby has 21 points in 16 games (6g, 15a).
*The Penguins are only 7-4-1 when they have more than 35 shots on goal. They had 36 shots in their loss to Buffalo on Sunday.
*Jeff Carter has one assist in his first three Penguins games and is still looking for his first goal as a Penguin.
*Penguins Taxi Squad
F – Anthony Angello
D – Juuso Riikola
D – Yannick Weber
G – Emil Larmi
G – Maxime Lagace
What to Watch:
The Penguins have struggled with New Jersey, which is 2-3-0 against the Penguins this season. New Jersey can skate with the Penguins but has often sacrificed their offensive push to take the rush game away from the Penguins.
The results have been some high-shot totals but low goal output games which were not exactly exciting tillies.
Buffalo was also able to take away the Penguins rush, so watch for New Jersey to focus on containing the Penguins speed. On Sunday, the Penguins had just a single rebound chance. One. They will have to get to the net, take away goalie sightlines and make the net-front an uncomfortable battlefield for New Jersey, which has nothing to play for.
“We were talking the whole game about trying to get to the net front and trying to get in the goalie sightlines and create some opportunity by going low-to-high and putting some pucks in play,” Sullivan said on Sunday afternoon. “And I don’t think we went to the net as consistently as we needed to.”
The Penguins MUST get to the net against New Jersey. The sidecar component will be the low-high game which should play into the offensive-defensemen Penguins game.
Be hard on the puck in the corners and get to the net–score goals. Or, dance on the perimeter and lose.
How to Watch, 7 p.m.
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 105.9 The X