Just two days after injecting Sidney Crosby back into their lineup, The Pittsburgh Penguins will play their penultimate game before the all-star break on the road against the defending Eastern Conference champions. The Penguins will face off against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Thursday, where they have lost seven straight games.
Thursday’s game begins a stretch where the Penguins will play six of their next eight games on the road, but do have nine days off before they jump into the meat of the stretch.
The Penguins will start Tristan Jarry in the net. Boston will tap Jaroslav Halak after Tuukka Rask was added to the IR early Thursday.
On Tuesday, the Penguins found an offensive jolt in Sidney Crosby’s first game back after missing 28 games due to core muscle surgery. Crosby scored a goal and three assists and Evgeni Malkin added two goals and an assist in the Penguins 7-3 win on Tuesday. After an odd start due to a lineup mistake by Minnesota which cost them their sixth defenseman and forced them to play with 13 forwards, the Penguins fired off two goals in the first period.
Malkin opened the scoring with a goal on the power play after a sequence of effective zone entry and precise passing. Jared McCann added to his teammate’s efforts by scoring his 14th of the year on a tic-tac-toe set up.
The two-goal lead held up the majority of the second until the Penguins added on with less than six minutes remaining. Evgeni Malkin skated into the zone on a partial breakaway and dropped a no-look pass to Bryan Rust, who rips a wrist shot home. Malkin, despite having a hand in two of the Penguins three goals, was not done as he would add his second power-play tally moments later. Malkin fired a shot that deflected in to put his team up by four. Kris Letang picked up his 400th career NHL assist on the goal. Minnesota found some positives in the period as Zach Parise (15) scored with less than three minutes remaining in the period to chomp into the lead.
After Minnesota opened the third with a Marcus Foligno (9) marker to dwindled the lead back down to two, the Penguins exploded for three goals. Sidney Crosby (6), Dominik Simon (5), Alex Galchenyuk (5) all added goals over the next 9:16 of action to give the Penguins a 7-2 advantage. With the Penguins win secured, Minnesota struck once more the round out the scoring. Zach Parise jostled for good positioning in front of the net and stuffed the rebound home on the power play to spoil a solid defensive effort with 14 seconds left.
Tristan Jarry surrendered three goals in the win but played better than the story his line told. Devan Dubnyk stopped 22 of 29 shots in the loss including just three of five on the power play. You can read more about the Penguins game in Dan’s Recap and the PHN Extra Report Card. If goal breakdown is your more your speed, you can check out PHN’s Chalkboard of the Penguins’ first power-play goal.
Columbus shut Boston down in a 3-0 win, Tuesday. Despite Boston outshooting Columbus 34-27 and receiving two late power plays, they could not muster enough offense to erase the zero in the goal column. Alexander Wennberg, Kevin Stenlund, Riley Nash score goals for Columbus, who have won four of their last five. Elvis Merzlikins earned the shutout in net by stopping all 28 shots he faced. Jaroslav Halak, who relieved an injured Tuukka Rask, made 24 saves in the loss.
A huge key to the Penguins’ current four-game winning streak has been its power play, which has clicked at a 41.7% success rate during their current win streak. Going back further, the Penguins have scored seven power-play goals over their last nine games dating back to Dec. 28, 2019, which is tied for third-most in the NHL during that span
Bryan Rust added another accolade to his career season, earning two points (1G-1A) against Minnesota, to set a career-high in single-season points with 40 and goals with 19. He is also currently riding a four-game point streak, his fifth scoring streak of four or more games this season. Rust has played lights out the last 16 games, tallying points in 14 of them (10G-13A) with six of those being multi-point games. Since Dec. 10 (the beginning of his 16-game stretch), Rust’s 23 points are tied for sixth-most in the NHL.
Nick Bjugstad (Core Muscle, skating)
Brian Dumoulin (Ankle, IR)
Justin Schultz (Lower Body, skating)
Connor Clifton (Upper body, IR)
Kevan Miller (Knee, LTIR)
Tuukka Rask (Concussion, IR)
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||20.3% (16th NHL)||82.4% (7th NHL)|
|New Jersey Devils||17.7% (22nd NHL)||82.0% (10th NHL)|
Expected Penguins Lines
|Jason Zucker||Sidney Crosby||Conor Sheary|
|Patrick Marleau||Evgeni Malkin||Bryan Rust|
|Evan Rodrigues||Jared McCann||Patric Hornqvist|
|Brandon Tanev||Teddy Blueger||Sam Lafferty|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Jack Johnson||Justin Schultz|
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