It’s the last game before the NHL trade deadline, and after two weak efforts in a row, The Pittsburgh Penguins might have to prove they can get it done with the current alteration of the roster or face a shakeup. They have a stiff challenge, however, as they battle their arch-rivals, the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena, Sunday. The game also holds heavy Metropolitan Division implication as both teams are tied for first place, but the Penguins have a game in hand on Washington.
The Penguins are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games against Washington including a 4-3 win in the first matchup of the season on three weeks prior. In four of the previous 10 games, The Penguins scored five or more goals. Since the beginning of the 2015-16 campaign (last five seasons), no team has defeated Washington more than the Penguins.
With Tristan Jarry starting Saturday in the first game of a back-to-back, all sign point to it being Matt Murray’s net against Washington. Murray is 7-2-1 in his last 10 starts dating back to Dec. 28 and has a 2.57 goals-against and a .921 save percentage during that span. Arguably his best performance of the season came last time these two teams met on Feb. 2. Washington starts Braden Holtby, who has lost his last three starts, including surrender four goals on Thursday.
For the second straight game, the Penguins submitted a less than ideal effort and could not earn any points in a 5-2 loss to Buffalo, Saturday. The Penguins could not overcome a three-goal first period by Buffalo, and despite playing better in the remaining periods could never establish prolonged momentum. It didn’t take long for Buffalo to take an early lead with a goal 14 seconds after the initial puck drop. Zemgus Girgensons buried the centering feed from Kyle Okposo for his 11th to give his team the early lead. Buffalo continued their offensive outburst as Sam Reinhart intercepted a pass skated in and snapped a wrist shot in front to extend the lead. Jack Eichel ripped a wrist shot stick side on the power play to cap the scoring for the period and extend his team’s lead to 3-0.
The Penguins showed a heartbeat in the second period, could not capitalize on it. Evgeni Malkin forced a turnover and finished on his defensive effort to trim the lead to two early in the second. However, Malkin’s marker remained the only tally of the second, and the Penguins went to the second intermission, still trailing multiple goals. In the third, Buffalo closed out the game with another two goals, including Eichel’s second of the game. Marcus Johansson set up Jeff Skinner, who deflected home the feed to reclaim the three-goal lead. Eichel added the fifth goal for his team on the power play with a heat seeker with 7:43 left. Penguins received another goal from Malkin late in the game, but the 5-2 score held up.
Tristan Jarry started for the Penguins in net and stopped just 21 of 26 shots in the loss. Jarry remained particularly ineffective on the penalty kill as he surrendered two goals on three shots. Carter Hutton earned the win for Buffalo and continued his strong career numbers against the Penguins. Hutton was tested often as he made 41 saves in the win. You can read more about the Penguins game against Buffalo in Dan’s Recap and the PHN Extra Coverage.
Despite the chance to gain on the Penguins in the Metropolitan Division, Washington could not solve New Jersey in a 3-2 loss, Saturday. Washington’s effort fell short, but was cloaked in history as Alex Ovechkin tallied his 700th career goal in the third to tie the game at two apiece. New Jersey received goals from Wayne Simmonds, Jesper Bratt, and Damon Severson in the win. Mackenzie Blackwood made 33 saves to chalk up his 21st win while Ilya Samsonov stopped 26 of 29 shots in the loss.
When Kris Letang and Bryan Rust step out on the ice in Washington D.C., Sunday, it will mark Rust’s 300th career game while Letang will become the fifth player in Penguins history to skate in 800 games with the team. Letang will also be the 14th player from the 2005 draft class to reach the feat. In his past 10 games, the defenseman has provided the Penguins with strong offense, recording points in seven of those 10 games
Evgeni Malkin scored both Penguins goals in the loss on Saturday afternoon giving him his seventh-consecutive, and 12th season overall, with 20-plus goals. He’s joined teammate Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux as the only players in franchise history with 1220-plus goal seasons.
Nick Bjugstad (Core Muscle, Skating)
Brian Dumoulin (Ankle, IR)
John Marino (Cheek, 3 to 6 weeks)
Zach Aston-Reese ( Lower body, week to week)
Dominik Kahun (Game-Time Decision )
None…….It must be nice.
|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
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Evan Rodrigues|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Bryan Rust|
|Jared McCann||Mark Jankowski||Brandon Tanev|
|Sam Lafferty||Teddy Blueger||Colton Sceviour|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Mike Matheson||Chad Ruhwedel|
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