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Break the Skid: Penguins Game Notes & Lines vs. Ducks

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The Pittsburgh Penguins continue their three-game trip through California against the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center, Friday. The Penguins have lost four straight games and are now four points out of first place in the Metropolitan division after holding a tie for the top spot a week ago. Injured Penguins forward Jared McCann will be a game-time decision.

Friday’s Penguins game is the final meeting between the teams. The Penguins won the first matchup at home on Oct. 10. Sidney Crosby finished with a team-high two points (1G-1A). Historically the Penguins have played well against Anaheim tough and are 9-4-0 in their last 13 games, dating back to Nov. 18, 2013. On the road, the Penguins have won four of the previous six meetings (4-2-0).

The Penguins turn to Matt Murray for their goaltending needs against Anaheim. Murray remains two games away from surpassing Les Binkley for the fourth most game played by a Penguins netminder. Anaheim starts Pittsburgh native John Gibson in net. Gibson remains tied for the 10th-highest career SV% (.918) among all-time NHL goaltenders with at least 200 games played. He also ranks tied for fifth among active goaltenders.

The Penguins could not prevent dropping their fourth straight game in a 2-1 loss to LA, Wednesday. Despite a handful of close calls and odd bounces, the Penguins had trouble scoring in the first two periods. Paired with a bad game from the defense, the Penguins started their trip through California on a poor note. LA scored first in the low scoring affair with a quick goal in the first three minutes of action. After Kris Letang committed a tripping infraction,  LA’s Blake Lizotte (5) redirected Sean Walker’s shot into the net, giving his team an early lead with a power-play goal. The period took a strange turn when Sidney Crosby appeared to tie the game a few minutes later, but the puck momentums prevented it from crossing the goal line.

After striking early in the first period, LA struck late in the second to add to their one-goal advantage. Trevor Lewis made a nice move to avoid a defender and put in his own rebound to increase the LA’s lead to 2-0 with 32 seconds left the 2nd period. The Penguins went into the second intermission trailing by two, but the game felt like 4-0 due to the difficult time they had in the offensive zone. The Penguins made it a game early in the final frame with a goal less than seven minutes in but it proved too little. Evgeni Malkin, playing in his 900th NHL game, fired a quick pass to Bryan Rust, who tapped the puck into the net to put the Penguins on the board.

Tristan Jarry started in net for the Penguins and was the less tested of the two goaltenders. Jarry made 20 saves in the loss but wasnt aided by misplays by the player in front of him on both goals. Cal Petersen started for LA and performed well by stopping 35 of the 36 shots in faced. You can read more about the Penguins game in Dan’s Recap and the PHN Extra Report Card.

Anaheim blew an early two-goal lead in the first but still held on in OT to chalk up a 4-3 win against Edmonton, Tuesday. Anaheim was paced offensively by a two-goal performance from recent acquisition Sonny Milano. The once Blue Jacket draftee opened and closed the scoring as he tallied the first goal of the game and the OT winner three minutes in. Edmonton used a three-assist performance from Connor McDavid to earn at least a point in the loss. John Gibson outdueled Mike Smith for the win by making 29 saves. Smith stopped 17 of 21 shots in the loss.

Notes

Playing in his 400th game with the Penguins, Patric Hornqvist recorded an assist on Bryan Rust’s third-period goal. Hornqvist has recorded points (3G-7A) in six of his last seven games and nine of his last 12 games (4G-7A). Hornqvist reached the 30-point (15G-15A) plateau for the 10th time in his career.

Penguins prospect and third-round draft choice (74th overall) in the 2019 draft, Nathan Legare, exploded last weekend for the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, recording back-to-back hat tricks. Legare was named the QMJHL Ultramar Player of the Week after scoring nine points (6G-3A) in two games. On February 22, Legareregistered the first of two hat tricks while also recording the game-winner and a plus-4. A day later, Legare also notched a hat trick and the game-winning goal, this time shorthanded. The Drakkar captain added two assists to match his career-high of five points.

Sidney Crosby sits two assists away from 800 in his career, which would make him the 32nd player in NHL history to accomplish the feat and the second player along with Mario Lemieux to record all 800 assists in a Penguins sweater.

Injuries

Pittsburgh Penguins

Nick Bjugstad (Core Muscle, Skating)

Brian Dumoulin (Ankle, IR)

John Marino (Cheek, 3 to 6 weeks)

Zach Aston-Reese (Lower body, week to week)

Jared McCann (Upper Body)

Anaheim Ducks

Ryan Kesler (Hip, IR)

Patrick Eaves (Illness, IR)

Erik Gudbranson (Upper body, IR)

Cam Fowler (Lower body, day-to-day)

Hampus Lindholm ( Lower body)

Special Teams

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

Penguins 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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