The Pittsburgh Penguins (6-5-0) find themselves in a bit of a rut, but encouraging news is on the horizon for their next Penguins game. After missing the majority of the season thus far, Nick Bjugstad and Bryan Rust might be back…….baby. The news comes at a good time as the Penguins will need all hands on deck against the Dallas Stars (4-7-1) at American Airlines Center, Saturday. Dallas, who seemed destined to be a Western Conference doormat based on their start to the season, have played some ” double backboned” hockey of late and seek their fourth straight win. The Penguins’ last win came against Dallas, Oct. 18, and have since faced some bumps and bruises. Despite the reversal of fortunes, Its a “show me” game for two teams hunting for consistency. The Penguins and Dallas will also conclude their season home-and-home series of the season after Saturday’s game.
Matt Murray starts for the Penguins against Dallas. Murray stopped 22 of 24 shots to earn the win against Dallas in last Friday’s Penguins game. Ben Bishop will tend the crease for Dallas. Bishop holds a 3-4-0 record with a 2.38 goals-against and .920 saves percentage.
The Penguins tried but could not avoid their third straight loss on Wednesday against Tampa Bay. The Penguins started the game with passion and appeared poised to break the scoreless tie early, but Tampa Bay remained vigilant to keep the game tied. Tampa Bay scored the first goal of the game on an act of determination by Alex Killorn for his first of the year. Killorn, after his shot from the slot five-second prior, was stopped, redirected a Nikita Kucherov shot through traffic and helped his team establish early momentum. Despite each team having a power-play opportunity, Tampa Bay retained their 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
The Penguins continued the trend of torrid second-period play thus far this season. Brandon Tanev (2) tied the game up just a tick above five minutes into the period. Tanev circled around the net and ripped a vicious backhand for his second goal as a Penguin. The play was an impressive individual effort and made some fans out of the stingy critics of his offseason deal. The Penguins added another goal right before the period expired to take a moral victory into the break. Jake Guentzel (6) received a Sidney Crosby feed and ripped a shot to polish off an impressive sequence by the Penguins’ first line.
Tampa Bay recovered quickly from their lackluster second period and knotted the game at two apiece just 7:07 into the third. Cedric Paquette, making his season debut after missing the team’s first eight-game due to injury, deflected a blast from Ryan McDonagh to shift the momentum in the last frame. The rest of the third period wasn’t without drama and controversy. After Victor Hedman (2) scored with 57 seconds left in the game, the Penguins mounted an offensive that appeared to be stopped just short or was it? Andrei Vasilevskiy made a glove save along the goal line against Kris Letang as time expired to preserve the 3-2 win. The play was reviewed to see if Vasilevskiy’s glove was over the goal line when he snagged the desperation shot. Despite being upheld, fans seemed to disagree on social media, but you can be the judge.
Vasilevskiy ended the game with a 37 save performance while Tristan Jarry, starting in his third game of the year, clocked out with a workman type effort of 45 saves. You can read more about the Tampa Bay soiree in Dan’s Recap and the PHN Extra Report Card.
Dallas scored early and held on to win their third straight game 2-1 against Anaheim, Thursday. Dallas received all their scoring from an unlikely source in the first period. Denis Gurianov (1,2) scored his first two-goals as an NHLer. Gurianov scored on the Stars’ first shot at 2:42 of the first period and later on a breakaway with two minutes left. Anaheim punched back in the second with a Max Comtois (1) goal early in the period, but it remained the only goal they could muster. Ben Bishop made 29 saves for Dallas in a goalie duel with John Gibson. Despite a 27 save effort, Gibson could not prevent his team from dropping their third straight game.
The Penguins solved their defensive log-jam with a trade, Friday. The Pittsburgh-Anaheim connection remains active as they swapped Andreas Martinsen and a 2021 seventh-round draft pick for Erik Gudbranson. The Penguins acquired the physical Gudbranson last season from Vancouver and was a positive media presence in the locker room. Martinsen boasts nine goals, 14 assists, and 29 points in 154 career games, the majority with Colorado.
The Penguins are first in the NHL with a 4.50 goals-per-game average on the road this season. Colorado and Montreal are tied for second with a 4.00 road goals-per-game average.
When defenseman Justin Schultz hits the ice tonight in Dallas, he’ll be skating in his 200th career game with the Penguins. A two-time Stanley Cup champion with the team, Schultz has recorded 106 points and is plus 56 in his first 199 games with the club. Schultz previously play in 248 games with the Edmonton, where he was minus 78
Despite criticism, Dominik Simon continues to help the Penguins score. Simon has recorded five points (1G-4A) over his last six games, and his .55 points-per-game average is on pace to be the best of his career.
Brian Dumoulin (IR)
Zach Trotman (Sports Hernia, Re-assigned to WBS)
Evgeni Malkin (Lower Body, Long Term)
Alex Galchenyuk (Undisclosed, IR, Practicing)
Blake Comeau (Lower Body, IR)
Martin Hanzal (Back, LTIR)
Stephen Johns (Headaches, IR)
Roman Polak (Fractured Sternum)
|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|