Well, It was fun while it lasted. After receiving encouraging news on the injury front recently, the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup was dealt yet another blow with the news John Marino has a broken bone in his cheek. No Bjugstad, No Marino, No Dumoulin, No Guentzel, but no problem; the train keeps rolling.
The Penguins conclude their week-long three-game road trip against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center, Saturday. The weekend matchup will be the final time that the two teams will meet in the regular season after wins by Florida in the previous two showdowns in January and October. The Penguins seek to avoid a season-series sweep against Florida for the first time since 2003-04. They do maintain strong recent numbers against Florida however with points in 14 of their last 17 meetings versus them dating back to December 20, 2014. On the road at BB&T Center, they have points in seven of the last nine.
Tristan Jarry will start for the Penguins, and savvy Dan Kingerski has the scoop on their long term plans. Florida is expected to start Sergei Bobrovsky in net against the Penguins. Bobrovsky has started seven consecutive games and holds posted a .923 even-strength save percentage during that span.
The Penguins could not rally from a multi-goal deficit in the first period in a 4-2 loss to Tampa Bay, Thursday. Despite numerous chances on the power play and a high volume of shots, they could not solve Tampa Bay’s lengthy defense and searing goaltending. Tampa Bay scored the only two goals in the first period to set an early tone. Mikhail Sergachev ripped a shot that found it’s way into the net for the first score while Steven Stamkos tallied his 25th of the year four minutes later.
Down by two to start the second, the Penguins cut into Tampa Bay’s lead with 10:35 remaining in the frame. Patric Hornqvist flung a pass towards the net, which deflected off Evgeni Malkin to trim the Penguins’ deficit to 2-1. Despite clawing their way back into the game, the Penguins could not capitalize on any momentum swing as they surrendered the next goal mere seconds later. Anthony Cirelli carried into the zone on an odd-man rush and sniped the puck in off the post to give his team back their two-goal advantage 32 seconds later.
The Penguins started the third period just like they did the second with a quick goal. John Marino tallied his fifth of the year 3:20 after the resumption of action. Evgeni Malkin wheeled around the net before finding Marino, who ripped a wrist shot top shelf to provide the high water mark for the Penguins. After numerous opportunities including a five on three power-play and a gaggle of frustrating saves, the Penguins could not push the tying goal across and Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov (25) iced the game with an empty-net tally. Matt Murray received the nod in net and stopped 25 of 28 shots in the loss. Murray performed well but was ultimately outdueled by Andrei Vasilevskiy for the win. Vasilevskiy made 29 saves including a handful of jaw-droppers in the third to retain the one-goal lead.
Florida could not survive an offensive onslaught by Vegas in a 7-2 loss, Thursday. Vegas received stellar individual efforts from multiple players but Mark Stone’s five-point performance grabbed all the headlines. Stone also had a hand in both of Max Pacioretty’s goals, who finished with three points. Florida despite the lopsided score, finished the game with two multi-point scorers in Jonathan Huberdeau and Vincent Trochek. Marc-Andre Fleury earned the win for Vegas with a 23 save effort while Sergei Bobrovsky was tagged with the loss while stopping 23 of 29 shots. Sam Montembeault, in relief of Bobrovsky, surrender one goal on 10 shots.
Evgeni Malkin factored into both goals on Thursday night, as he scored his 17th goal of the season in the first period and assisted on his team-leading 39th helper in the third period. Malkin leads the team with 17 multi-point games and has matched his total from 2018-19 although playing in 28 games less. In the NHL, Malkin is tied with Jack Eichel for the 12th most multi-point games.
After going 4-for-4 on the penalty kill against Tampa, the Penguins have not allowed a power-play goal in any of its last nine times shorthanded dating back to the second period on Jan. 31 against Philadelphia. Going back further, they have allowed just two power-play goals over their last seven games, where the penalty kill has operated at a 91.3% success rate. The PK ranks fourth in the NHL during that span.
Nick Bjugstad (Core Muscle)
Brian Dumoulin (Ankle, IR)
Dominik Kahun (Concussion)
John Marino (Cheek, Time table uncertain)
Chris Driedger (Lower-Body)
Aleksander Barkov (Lower-Body, Projected to play)
MacKenzie Weegar (Illness)
Brian Boyle (Upper-Body)
|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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