The Pittsburgh Penguins (10-6-2) game Friday night will begin their next six or more weeks ordeal without Sidney Crosby. The Penguins played without Crosby on Tuesday and will be without his services until January 2020, at the earliest, after he had a successful core muscle surgery in Philadelphia on Thursday. Despite yet another injury gut punch, the Penguins will begin life and line combinations without their best player at the Prudential Center, Friday against the New Jersey Devils (5-8-4).
New Jersey underwent huge roster changes in the offseason, but are stuck in neutral to start the year. Despite adding long-time Penguins pest Wayne Simmonds, Russian scorer Nikita Gusev, and All-Star defenseman PK Subban, New Jersey has dubious distinctions many stats. They hold the worst record in the Eastern Conference, third-worst goal differential, and have scored the least goals.
Otherwise, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?
New Jersey will start leaky Mackenzie Blackwood Friday against the Penguins. It is Blackwood’s third straight start and he has a porous .895 save percentage and a goals against average just below 3.00. The Penguins goaltender remains unannounced at this time but we will update when it becomes available.
The Penguins looked poised for another come from behind win but were short against the New York Rangers 3-2 in OT, Tuesday. Despite the Penguins outshooting, outhitting, and out chancing New York in the second and third periods, they were ultimately undone by an awful first period. New York scored its first goal 6:42 in the game. 2019 second overall pick Kaapo Kakko (5) got behind the Penguins defense for a breakaway and made a great move to snag a 1-0 lead. The Penguins pushed but found themselves in a bigger hole with a late period defensive lapse. Rookie Adam Fox (3) fired a shot from the circle to extend the lead to 2-0.
The Penguins, armed with adjustments, woke in the second period and mounted their comeback. Justin Schultz (2) cut the lead to one less than two minutes into the period. The play was started by Evgeni Malkin, who sent a tight window pass to Schultz to help spark the team early. The teams exchanged chances, but no one could find the next goal until the Penguins broke their PP drought. Jared McCann fired a shot from the circle that found twine, tying the game at two. The powerplay goal gave the Penguins new life before the second intermission, but the tiebreaking marker couldn’t be pushed across.
After a scoreless third, The Penguins appeared prime gather the second point in OT, but New York used their rookie duo to strike again. Kaapo Kakko redirected in the feed from Adam Fox to tally his second goal of the game and win it for New York in overtime. Matt Murray started in net for the Penguins and helped earn them a point with an impressive third period showing. Alexandar Georgiev earned the win for New York with a 30 save effort.
New Jersey continued to find trouble righting their season in a 4-2 lost to Ottawa, Wednesday. Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored the first regular-season hat trick of his NHL career to help his team rally. Wayne Simmonds (3) and Will Butcher (2) scored goals for New Jersey. Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 21 of 24 shots while Craig Anderson earned the win with a 21 save performance.
Matt Murray is undefeated in four appearances at the Prudential Center. Murray has a 2.75 goals-against average and a .911 save-percentage in those games.
Playing in his 500th career game, Alex Galchenyuk has 15 points in 18 career games against the Devils, which includes nine points in 10 games at the Prudential Center. Despite this success, Galchenyuk still seems off in the Penguins lineup.
Penguins prospect Calen Addison, who is playing for Team WHL in the 2019 CIBC Canada Russia Series, scored the overtime game-winner just two minutes into the extra frame on Wednesday to give Team WHL a 2-1 win over Team Russia in Game 5 of the six-game series.
Patric Hornqvist (Lower-body, IR)
Kris Letang (Lower-Body, Week to Week)
Sidney Crosby (Core Muscle, 6+ Weeks)
Sami Vatanen (Upper-body, Out)
Kevin Ronney (Upper-body)
Connor Carrick (Finger, IR)
|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|