A pair of depleted lineups will drop the puck at the Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday night. It will be the Pittsburgh Penguins (5-3-4) first of back-to-back games, but defensemen Chad Ruhwedel and Marcus Pettersson cannot play due to COVID rules. Nor can Sidney Crosby. However, the Ottawa Senators (3-9-1).
Crosby was cleared from protocol and resumed skating, Saturday.
Ottawa is missing nine players, including former Penguins Stanley Cup-winning goalie Matt Murray. Seven of the nine players, including Murray, are in COVID protocol.
The Penguins won their first shootout and beat the Florida Panthers on Thursday, 3-2. For one night, Tristan Jarry solved his shootout struggles and stopped three of four attempts.
The Penguins lineup was again hampered by injury. Before the game, Marus Pettersson was activated from the COVID protocol but was injured in the first period, so the Penguins played with just five defensemen.
Kris Letang again played more than 28 minutes. The Penguins blue liners did not receive good grades in the PHN+ report card.
Ottawa doesn’t have a great record, but they’ve been far more competitive than last season. They’ve been outscored 45-30 but are nearly even in the first and second periods. Their worst period has been the third, in which they’ve been outscored 17-5.
Ottawa is 0-5-1 in November.
With patchwork lineups, the game will hinge on the Penguins ability to pin the Senators defense in their own zone. Should the Penguins get the upper hand on territory and pace, Ottawa doesn’t have the horses to keep up, even with the Penguins depleted lineup.
However, fatigue seemed to be an issue with the Penguins against Florida on Thursday. Breathing heavily creates bad decisions and Ottawa is a gritty, determined team. If the Penguins let them off the matt, Brady Tkachuk or Tim Stuetzel could put one in the net and change the game.
Casey DeSmith has allowed four or more goals in six of his last eight.
Spread: Penguins (-1.5 +156), Senators (+1.5 -194)
Moneyline: Penguins (-170), Senators (+140)
Over/Under: Over 5.5 (-122), Under 5.5 (+100)
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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 Ottawa Senators Lines, per PuckPedia.com:
Chabot – Del-Zotto
Heatherington – Thomson
|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)
Evgeni Malkin, lower body (12 consecutive, 12 total)
Sidney Crosby, COVID-19 protocol (4 consecutive, 11 total)
Brian Dumoulin, COVID-19 protocol (4 consecutive, 4 total)
2021-22 Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 54
*Juuso Riikola and G Louis Domingue were recalled from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
*The Penguins have points in eight of their last nine games versus Ottawa (6-1-2) dating back to March 23, 2017.
*Going back further, the Penguins have points in 20 of their last 23 games against the Senators (16-3-4) dating back to January 27, 2013.
*Last year, the Penguins went 13-4-1 in back-to-backs (8-1-0 on the first night; 5-3-1 the second night).
*The Penguins enter tonight’s game averaging a league-high 35.7 shots-for per game despite not having any player inside the league’s top-40 list for most shots on goal.
How to Watch:
TV: AT&T SportsNet; Radio: 105.9 The X