The Pittsburgh Penguins (7-6-4) have won the first two of their three-game swing through Canada, and goalie Tristan Jarry has not yet allowed a goal. The Penguins shut out Montreal on Thursday and Saturday blanked red-hot Toronto in front of a Hockey Night in Canada audience.
The Penguins are now one point behind three teams in the wild-card race.
Monday night, the Penguins are in the coldest city on the planet (not really, but it feels like it) to face the Winnipeg Jets (9-4-4). The puck drops tonight at the Canada Life Centre just after 8:30 p.m.
The Penguins finally found their stride on Saturday. They outplayed the Toronto Maple Leafs, who had won 10 of their last 11. The Penguins outworked Toronto by pressuring every puck and winning most of the loose pucks.
The Penguins educated the talented Toronto lineup. Sportsnet had the quote–“The problem was the Penguins.”
It was a good time for the Penguins to replace their forlorn, loose play with determination.
Tristan Jarry is expected to start in goal for the Penguins. He’s been brilliant and raised his save percentage to .927 with back-to-back shutouts. Jarry’s shutout streak is 151:06. The last person to score on him was Buffalo Sabre Kyle Okposo at 8:54 of the second period on Tuesday.
What to Watch:
Toronto is an offense-first team. The Winnipeg Jets can lock down the opposition–as they did against the vaunted Edmonton Oilers last week–and score goals, too.
The Penguins lead the NHL in shots per game with more than 35 SOGs a night. Winnipeg is in the mid-pack on shots, goals, and shots allowed, but there is growing optimism on the Canadian prairie.
Winnipeg is feeling pretty good about the team. Head coach Paul Maurice is starting to feel like a contender after they closed down Connor McDavid.
Pierre-Luc Dubois is having a first-line center season. The 23-year-old who forced his way out of Columbus has 16 points (10-6-16) in 17 games. And Connor Hellebuyck is always tough to beat.
Winnipeg’s weak spots are their defense and penalty killing, which is epically bad at the moment (63%). The Penguins like to use shots to break down opposing defenders, which should play well against Winnipeg, but the Penguins haven’t yet created enough net-front traffic to capitalize.
The Penguins have generated chances on the rush and play well when they’re buzzing around the puck. There isn’t a built-in advantage vs. Winnipeg there.
Winnipeg doesn’t have the offensive talent of Toronto, but they’re willing to work hard. The Jets bottom six is currently under fire for lack of production, so Teddy Blueger and Evan Rodrigues should have the upper hand.
Sidney Crosby vs. Dubois might be a different matter as Crosby isn’t yet in rhythm after missing all of training camp and most of the season.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines:
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Rickard Rakell|
|Danton Heinen||Ryan Poehling||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Brock McGinn||Sam Poulin||Drew O'Connor|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||Jeff Petry|
|P.O Joseph||Jan Rutta|
Expected Winnipeg Jets Lines, Per PuckPedia.com:
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||24.1% (7-29, 11th)||72% (7-25, 28th)|
|Vancouver Canucks||22.2% (6-27, 17th)||60% (10-25, 32nd)|
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:
*Scoring first is important. Winnipeg is 0-5-4 when the opposition gets the first goal.
*Winnipeg is a combined 0-6-3 when tied or trailing after two periods. The Penguins have been cardiac kids with a 2-3-1 record when trailing after two.
*Tired? Winnipeg is in a stretch of six games in eight days.
*The teams are playing for the first time since Oct. 13, 2019
*Sidney Crosby has been dominant against the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets franchise. In 38 games, Crosby has 18 goals, 39 assists, and 57 points.
*Tristan Jarry is 3:34 short of having the longest shutout streak in the NHL this season. Jonathan Quick achieved 154:39.
*Jake Guentzel has goals in four straight games and points in five straight (4-2-6).
How to Watch:
TV: AT&T Sportsnet, Sportsnet; Radio: 105.9 The X