The Pittsburgh Penguins will be without center Evgeni Malkin for the second straight game as he again battles illness. Jake Guentzel figures to again sub for Malkin as the Penguins are tied with Carolina for third in the Metro Division and are just one point ahead of Philadelphia for the second Wild-Card spot. The team will also turn to goalie Tristan Jarry again. Jarry has three shutouts in his last four starts and is giving assumed number one goalie Matt Murray a genuine challenge for the starting job.
Rain, sleet, snow, or snot aside, the Penguins will face the LA Kings at PPG Paints Arena Saturday before embarking on their western Canada trip. Last season, the Penguins split the season series with Los Angeles. Each team won at home. Overall, the Penguins have won three of their past four games and have points in six of their last seven games against LA. In tandem with their good numbers, the Penguins should be aided by the mystical third jersey. The Penguins will be wearing their yellow third jerseys against LA, Saturday. They are 3-1-1 in their yellow third this season, and 13-3-1 all-time since the beginning of the 2018-19 season.
Tristan Jarry will start in net for the Penguins, Saturday. Jarry became the second-fastest goaltender in team history to collect five shutouts, Thursday. LA will likely start Jonathan Quick in net.
The Penguins needed overtime for 1-0 win over Columbus 1-0, Thursday. The Penguins played without center Sidney Crosby and Malkin in the same game for the first time since April 9, 2017. Their effort was more impressive as Malkin was a surprise late scratch and forced certain players into unfamiliar roles. Malkin joined the list of key players out with a variety of ailments, but his reported illness doesn’t seem too dire. The first three periods of the game were not without chances for both teams, but despite the opportunity, no one could play the hero.
With the stage set for three-on-three OT and the Penguins ill-equipped for the track meet that usually ensues during the extra frame, it appeared Columbus would escape with the extra point. However, on the powerplay, the Penguins found yet another way win even if half their team is in a M.A.S.H unit. Bryan Rust flipped a one-touch backhanded shot that found the back of the net for the game-winning goal. Rust tally was made possible with a stellar keep at the blueline by Kris Letang, who bobbled the puck after receiving a pass on the choppy ice.
Despite the late-game heroics, goaltending stole the show for the majority of the game. Tristan Jarry stopped all 17 shots he faced in the game, but his light workload wasn’t a testament to the quality of chances. Jarry recorded his fifth NHL shutout for the Penguins and third of the year in the win. Joonas Korpisalo submitted an impressive effort as well for Columbus but still received his 10th loss of the year. Korpisalo made 31 saves. You can read more about the Penguins game in Dan’s Recap and the PHN Extra Report Card.
LA won a California clash against the Anaheim Ducks 2-1, Thursday. Anaheim attempted a late rally after LA scored the first two goals of the game. Jeff Carter scored his ninth while Matt Luff chalked up his first goal of the season. Former Penguin Derek Grant scored Anaheim’s only goal. Jonathan Quick outdueled John Gibson for his ninth win of the year by stopping 36 shots. Gibson made 25 saves for Anaheim but still lost.
The Penguins have been dominant against the Western Conference this season. In 15 games played against the West, the Penguins have gone 11-3-1, which ranks first in wins among Eastern Conference teams. Throughout the entire NHL, the Penguins’ 11 wins against the West are tied for fifth. Coming into Saturday’s game, the Penguins have won five-consecutive home games against the West, carrying an 8-2-1 record at home. Against Western teams, the Penguins’ penalty kill is 88.9 percent at home, which is tied for third among Eastern Conference teams.
With the absence of captain Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel has done what he can to make up for the missing production. since November 16, Guentzel has recorded nine goals and 10 assists in 13 games. He ranks sixth in the NHL in goals and points over that span. Guentzel currently leads the team in goals (17), points (33), power-play goals (4), power-play points (7), game-winning goals (3), and shots (103). His 17 goals this season currently rank 11th in the NHL.
Sidney Crosby (Core Muscle, 6+ Weeks)
Nick Bjugstad (Core Muscle, 6+ Weeks)
Brian Dumoulin (Ankle, IR)
Patric Hornqvist (Lower Body, Longer term)
Evgeni Malkin (illness)
Los Angeles Kings
Derek Forbort (upper body)
Alec Martinez (lower body)
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||15.1% (11-73) 27th NHL||92.2% (5-64) 1st NHL|
|Anaheim Ducks||26.3% (20-76) 5th NHL||86.3% (10-76) 3rd NHL|
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Danton Heinen||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Brock McGinn||Jeff Carter||Evan Rodrigues|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Brian Boyle||Dominik Simon|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Mike Matheson||Chad Ruhwedel|