The Pittsburgh Penguins kick off their Western Canada trip with a game against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome, Tuesday. The Penguins have historically fared well on their Western Canada swing including three straight wins last season. Over the last nine seasons that they’ve made the trip dating they’re an impressive 19-4-4 which includes a 6-1-2 record over the last three seasons. Last season, they were perfect on their trek but were aided a stellar effort by captain Sidney Crosby, who remains out but skating.
Regarding other injuries and sickness, Evgeni Malkin has resumed practicing, but Bryan Rust’s status is questionable. Hopefully, a large box of Clorox wipes is on the Penguins’ list to Santa.
Tristan Jarry will start his fourth straight game of the season against Calgary, Tuesday. Jarry appears to have a hold on the starting goalie job, but that has not deterred Matt Murray from working hard. Calgary will counter with Cam Talbot. The former Philadelphia and Edmonton goalie is 3-5 on the year with a 3.05 goals-against.
The Penguins traded leads with LA, but still earned the win in a shootout 5-4, Saturday. The game provided another character type win for the Penguins despite being without Evgeni Malkin for the second straight game. In lieu of their star center, the Penguins received contributions from their top line with some unlikely sources chipping in as well. LA scored the only two goals of the first period and seemed on their way to beating the Penguins for just the second time in the past five meetings. Austin Wagner one-timed his third goal of the year, and Tyler Toffoli (8) buried a backhander in front of the net to secure a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
The Penguins continued their season-long second-period success with two goals in the period by Bryan Rust to erase their poor first. Three and half minutes into the period, Rust skated in toward the slot and netted a wrist shot on a 3-on-2 to bite into the lead. Rust’s effort was only outdone by himself as he established slot position on the power play and ripped a shot to tie the game late for the Penguins. Jake Guentzel tallied the primary assist on both of Rust’s markers in the period.
With the score tied at 2-2, both teams seemed revved up to start the period, but it was the Penguins unlikely contributors who struck first. Teddy Blueger (4) and Jack Johnson (2) scored from in front of the net to stretch the lead to 4-2. The lead held up for the majority of the period and it appeared the Penguins were in the driver seat, but with five minutes left, things got tight. LA roared back with two goals to force OT. After a scoreless extra frame, the shootout yielded only one goal. Bryan Rust deked to the backhand to give his team the extra point and cap off a great night individually.
Tristan Jarry started for the Penguins and made 38 saves and stopped all three LA shooters he faced in the shootout. Jonathan Quick stopped 23 of 27 shots, but still lost. You can read more about the Penguins game in Dan’s Recap and The PHN Extra Report Card.
Calgary outshot Carolina, but could not squeeze a goal across in a 4-0 shutout, Saturday. Carolina received goals from Brock McGinn, Dougie Hamilton and Warren Foegele, who scored twice in the third period. Carolina goalie James Reimer stopped all 32 shots he faced to top David Rittich in net. Rittich made 27 saves in his eighth loss of the year with Calgary.
Evgeni Malkin currently sits one goal shy of 400 in his career. He will join Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby and Jaromir Jagr as the only players in franchise history to score 400. Malkin has led the Penguins in goals five times during his first 13 seasons with Pittsburgh. Only Lemieux (10 times) and Crosby (8 times) have led the Penguins in goals in a season more times.
The Penguins are beat up but continue to dominate against the Western Conference this season. In 16 games played against the West, the Penguins have gone 12-3-1, first in wins among Eastern Conference teams. Throughout the entire NHL, the Penguins’ 12 wins against the West are tied for fourth.
Sidney Crosby (Core Muscle, 6+ Weeks)
Nick Bjugstad (Core Muscle, 6+ Weeks)
Brian Dumoulin (Ankle, IR)
Patric Hornqvist (Lower Body, Longer term)
Sam Bennett (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|