The Pittsburgh Penguins (6-4-0) hope they can avoid three straight losses when the puck drops against the Tampa Bay Lightning (4-3-1) at Amalie Arena, Wednesday. Tampa Bay began the year as a trendy Stanley Cup pick but has faced early-season adversity. The Penguins roared out of the gate initially, but have lost two straight games and remain saddled with their growing injury list. Tampa Bay, after a lethal regular season and quiet postseason, can’t establish a foothold in the Atlantic Division and are 2-2-0 in their last four games. The Penguins game will be aired before a national audience Wednesday night on NBCsn at 8 p.m.
In a back to back situation, the Penguins are expected to start Tristan Jarry in net. A humble Jarry should face a solid test, despite Tampa Bay’s recent struggles. Tampa Bay starts Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Russian goaltender holds a 3.15 goals-against so far but is capable of better play as evidence of last year.
The Penguins rallied late but could not start the road trip with a win against Florida, Tuesday in a 4-2 loss. Neither team could score in the first period despite a track meet of the period. The Penguins hold a vast amount of recent success against Florida, but last night felt like they played a completely different team than in the past. Florida struck first in the second period with goals by Noel Acciari (3) and Denis Malgin (3) to take a goal lead into the third period. The Penguins’ goal was tallied by Teddy Blueger (2). The Latvian received a give-and-go pass from Jake Guentzel on a two-on-one and taps the puck into the open net to tie the game at one. Florida responded later in the period with the Malgin goal.
The third period featured each team playing each other to a standstill, but no one could provide an impact early in the period. Florida added onto their lead with a Jonathan Huberdeau (4) goal. Huberdeau got good position in the slot and redirected an Anton Stralman shot to give Florida a 3-1 lead. The goal appeared to be a gut punch, but the Penguins responded quickly. Jake Guentzel skated toward the net and sent a great backdoor pass to Patric Hornqvist. After establishing position, Hornqvist tapped the puck home to cut the deficit to 3-2. The goal provided an instant jump, but the Penguins could not force another goal. There was a feeling that another goal seemed imminent but a Frank Vatrano (2) empty netter sealed the game.
Matt Murray stopped just 18 of 21 shots in the loss. Sergei Bobrovsky shook the mantle of Penguins’ whipping boy with a 23 save effort. You can read more about Tuesday’s Penguins game second straight loss in Dan’s Recap and the PHN Extra Report Card.
Tampa Bay should be well rested after a 6-2 loss against Colorado, Saturday. After each team scored a goal in the first period, Colorado exploded for 3 straight goals in the second. The 4-1 lead proved to be insurmountable as the teams exchanged goals in the third, but Tampa Bay could never gain traction after being dealt the blow in the second. Colorado’s Tyson Jost (2,3,4) lead his team with a hat trick while Yanni Gourde (1) and Victor Hedman (1) scored their first goals of the season. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 18 saves in the loss while Colorado backup Pavel Francouz stole the show with a 44 save effort.
Through the first 10 games of the season, the Penguins are averaging 28.5 shots against per game. That is good for the third-fewest average in the NHL. As a result, Pittsburgh has limited the goals they’ve given up as well. Of their 10 games this season, they have allowed two or fewer goals five times, and three or fewer goals in seven of the 10 games. Their 2.70 goals against per game ranks 10th in the NHL.
Defenseman Kris Letang has 31 points (5G-26A) in 36 career games versus Tampa Bay. He has more points against the Lightning than any other non-Metropolitan Division team. Letang ranks first in the NHL among defensemen and is tied for 8th overall, with 37 shots this season.
Brian Dumoulin (IR)
Bryan Rust (Hand, LTIR, Traveling with team)
Zach Trotman (Sports Hernia, Re-assigned to WBS)
Evgeni Malkin (Lower Body, Long Term)
Nick Bjugstad (Lower Body but, traveling with team)
Alex Galchenyuk (Undisclosed, IR)
Jared McCann (Undisclosed)
Tampa Bay Lightning
Cedric Paquette ( Upper Body, Week to week)
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||14.5% (24th NHL)||89.1% (2nd NHL)|
|New York Islanders||23.5% (9th NHL)||84.6% (7th NHL)|
Penguins, +160, -18, (O 6.5)
Expected Penguins Lines
|Jake Guentzel||Evgeni Malkin||Bryan Rust|
|Dominik Kahun||Jared McCann||Brandon Tanev|
|Alex Galchenyuk||Joseph Blandisi||Dominik Simon|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Teddy Blueger||Sam Lafferty|
|Brian Dumoulin||John Marino|
|Marcus Pettersson||Justin Schultz|
|Jack Johnson||Juuso Riikola|