It may just be another regular game in March, but to the Pittsburgh Penguins, it probably feels so much more important. The Penguins have lost six straight and need a win on Tuesday at home against the Ottawa Senators at PPG Paints Arena. The Penguins begin a slate of 16 games (8 home, 8 road) in the month of March, a month that has treated them well historically. Since the 2005-06 season, the Penguins have the best record of any team in March with a record of 134-55-23 for 291 points in 212 games. Going back further to the 1984-85 season, the Penguins have a league-high 582 points in March.
However, the Penguins have lost six games in a row and confidence is tenuous.
“(The first goal) certainly helps. It would help our team confidence,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “It would certainly help if we can get the first goal and with a lead, we haven’t done it in a while.”
Sullivan also announced Brian Dumoulin and John Marino will return to the lineup. Each was considered a game-time decision. However, the Penguins had to recall Anthony Angello because winger Brandon Tanev is ill.
Matt Murray will start for the Penguins. The game is the second of three meetings between the teams, the first coming on December 30 when the Penguins won 5-2 at home. In that game, Jake Guentzel suffered his shoulder injury while scoring his 20th goal of the season during the third period. Digging deeper, the Penguins have points in 19 of their last 22 games against Ottawa (15-3-4) dating back to January 27, 2013, and have won eight straight at home.
Ottawa starts Craig Anderson in net against the Penguins due to Marcus Hogberg returning home for personal reasons. Anderson allowed three goals on 33 shots in the Senators’ loss in Nashville last Tuesday. The Penguins start Matt Murray to oppose him. The start is his 196th career game, tying him with Les Binkley for the fifth-most games played among Penguins goaltenders. In seven games against Ottawa, Murray is 4-1-1.
The Penguins could not stop their recent bleeding after being shutout 5-0 against the San Jose, Saturday. The game marked the end of the California trip for the Penguins and capped off one of their most disappointing west coast swing in recent history after earning no points in the three games. Similar to the previous four losses, the Penguins surrendered the first goal of the game. Evander Kane (22) raced inside the slot, where he made a move to his forehand and ripped a wrist shot to give his team a lead with less than two minutes left in the period.
San Jose started the second period with a lead they would not surrender but did add on twice to pad their stats. Timo Meier received Marcus Sorensen’s pass inside the circle and fire a wicked shot to extend the lead to two. The goal occurred just seconds after the Penguins killed a penalty but Marcus Pettersson was unable to get into the play before the damage was done. The Penguins found themselves down by three about three minutes later as they got lost transition. Joel Kellman skated inside the circle and whipped the puck increasing the San Jose’s lead. Despite an early third period push, the Penguins could not find the back of the net and San Jose added two more to account for the rest of the scoring.
Tristan Jarry received the start in a back to back situation for the Penguins. Jarry faced the most shots of either goaltender, but let by a few soft goals in a 27 save effort. Martin Jones earned the win and shutout for San Jose by stopping all 30 shots. Jones remained particularly effective on the penalty kill as he turned away seven shots on four Penguins’ power-play chances. You can read more about the Penguins game in Dan’s Recap and the PHN Extra Report Card.
Ottawa won the battle of the two Eastern Conference cellar dwellers in a 4-3 SO win against Detroit. Ottawa overcame a two-goal deficit after Detroit score the only goal of the first and added a quick strike in the second. Artem Anisimov scored two goals in the comeback and scored the only goal by either team in the shootout. Detroit Received a two-point effort from Dylan Larkin, who chalked up his 18th goal of the year and an assist. Marcus Hogberg outdueled Jonathan Bernier for the win by making 25 saves. Bernier stopped 36 of 39 shots in the loss.
The Penguins have nine more games at PPG Paints Arena this regular season and will play at home for three of the next four contests. The Penguins have won 22 home games this season, tied for the third-most in the NHL and have gained points in seven of their last eight home games (6-1-1).
Jason Zucker has two goals for the Penguins in his last two games and 19 total for the year. In Anaheim on Friday night, Zucker’s power-play goal gave him seven goals this year on the man advantage, tying his career-high set in each of the last two seasons. Zucker is now one goal shy of his fourth-consecutive, and fifth season overall with 20-plus goals.
Nick Bjugstad (Core Muscle, Skating)
Brian Dumoulin (Ankle, Game Time Decision) John Marino (Cheek, Game Time Decision)
Zach Aston-Reese (Lower body, week to week)
Dominik Simon (Upper body, week to week)
Mark Borowiecki ( Lower Body, IR)
Anders Nilsson (Concussion, IR)
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||23.7%, 4th NHL||77.4%, 27th NHL|
|New York Islanders||18.8%, 21st NHL||83.7%, 6th NHL|
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jared McCann||Jeff Carter||Freddy Gaudreau|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Teddy Blueger||Brandon Tanev|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Mike Matheson||Cody Ceci|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
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