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It’s Murray’s Turn: Penguins Game Notes & Lines vs. Canucks

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Pittsburgh Penguins NHL return

The Pittsburgh Penguins will conclude their annual Western Canada trip with a final game against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena, Saturday. The Penguins can put a big exclamation point on a challenging road trip despite the bumps and bruises which have depleted their roster. The Penguins are 6-2-1 in their last nine games versus Vancouver, and in “Vansterdam,” the Penguins are 3-1-0 in their last four games.

In a back to back situation, the Penguins turn to Matt Murray for the first time in five games. Murray continues to work behind the scenes to improve .897 save percentage, but possesses strong numbers against Vancouver. Jacob Markstrom is projected to start for Vancouver.

Saturday’s game is also the second matchup of the season of the Tanev brothers. Brandon’s Penguins beat Chris’ Canucks 8-6 on Nov. 27 at PPG Paints Arena; Evgeni Malkin had five points.

The Pittsburgh Penguins extended their point streak against the Edmonton Oilers to 19 games with a 5-2 win, Friday. The Penguins started well and didn’t relent as they never surrendered their early lead and dealt a serious blow in the third to stifle any hope. Chad Ruhlwedel and Joseph Blandisi each score their second goals of the year to stake the Penguins to a 2-0 lead. Blandisi’s tally came seconds after a crucial penalty kill and provided another jolt of secondary scoring.

Edmonton put pressure on in the second period but could not crack goalie Tristan Jarry. Zack Kassian (13) cut into the lead 6:41 into the period with a redirect goal. It gave life to Edmonton but the Penguins quickly washed it out with an impressive Jared McCann breakaway goal. After McCann forced a turnover for the long breakaway, he deked backhand to reclaim the two-goal Penguins lead.

Former Penguin Riley Sheahan (2) scored a late second-period shortie to cut the deficit back to one.

Kris Letang opened up the third period with a goal just 38 seconds in to end any hope of a comeback. Letang’s goal marked one of the two Penguins goal scored in the period as Brandon Tanev added his seventh of the year. Tristan Jarry, making his fifth straight start, stopped 26 of 28 shots in the win. Mike Smith for Edmonton made 21 saves. You can read more about the Penguins game against Edmonton in Dan’s Recap and the PHN Extra Report Card.

Vancouver used a Chris Tanev OT winner to top the Vegas Golden Knights 5-4, Thursday. Vancouver established an early two-goal lead in the first but saw their lead trickle away throughout the remaining two periods. Elias Pettersson scored two goals in the win while  Reilly Smith scored a goal and assist for Vegas. Marc Andre Fleury made 29 saves, but Jacob Markstrom stopped 39 of 43 shots to steal the show.

Notes

Jake Guentzel has points in all seven of his career games against the Canucks (8G-5A). He has goals in all but one game he has played against them.

Defenseman Kris Letang could soon become the first defenseman in franchise history to record 400 assists in their career. Letang would also become just the sixth player in Penguins’ history to record 400 or more assists, joining Mario Lemieux (1,0330), Sidney Crosby (782), Jaromir Jagr (640), Evgeni Malkin (631) and Ron Francis (449).

Injuries

Pittsburgh Penguins

Sidney Crosby (Core Muscle, 6+ Weeks)

Nick Bjugstad (Core Muscle, 6+ Weeks)

Brian Dumoulin (Ankle, IR)

Patric Hornqvist (Lower Body, Longer term)

Justin Schultz (Lower Body, Longer term)

Vancouver Canucks

Thatcher Demko (Concussion, IR)

Micheal Ferland (Upper Body, IR)

Tyler Graovac (Lower Body, IR)

Alex Edler (Upper Body, IR)

Brandon Sutter (Undisclosed)

Josh Leivo (Undisclosed)

Special Teams

TEAMPower PlayPenalty Kill
Pittsburgh Penguins20.3% (16th NHL)82.4% (7th NHL)
New Jersey Devils17.7% (22nd NHL)82.0% (10th NHL)

Expected Lines

Expected Penguins Lines

LWCRW
Jason ZuckerSidney CrosbyConor Sheary
Patrick MarleauEvgeni MalkinBryan Rust
Evan RodriguesJared McCannPatric Hornqvist
Brandon TanevTeddy BluegerSam Lafferty
LDRD
Brian DumoulinKris Letang
Marcus PetterssonJohn Marino
Jack JohnsonJustin Schultz
Goalie
Matt Murray
Tristan Jarry

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