The Pittsburgh Penguins with Mike Sullivan have never beaten the Chicago Blackhawks. The Penguins have been swept for the past five years running and have been outscored 38-13 in the last four years. The Penguins game needs to build on the momentum of their emotional comeback win over the New York Islanders Thursday night and their recent puck domination has led to a 3-1-1 record in their last five games. Despite points in five of their last six home games and two previous impressive road showings, the Penguins remain third in their division while trailing Washington by eight points and New York by five.
The last Penguins coach to beat Chicago was Dan Bylsma on March 30, 2014. Yikes.
The dreaded injury “bug” has been tempered lately but has taken key pieces of the Penguins lineup. They will be without Kris Letang for an extended period of time as he is listed “week-to-week” and Patric Hornqvist remains on IR.
Matt Murray will make his third straight start for the Penguins, Saturday. Murray continues to be a workhorse and has played in 13 of 16 Penguins’ games.
Thursday, for the second straight game, the Penguins rallied from a large deficit but received a better result against New York, Thursday in a 4-3 win. New York set the tone early with a quick strike 19 seconds into the game. Casey Cizikas controlled the puck behind the net and shoveled a backhander into the net for the early lead. New York dominated the first period and started the second period hot with two more goals to extend their lead. Cal Clutterbuck (2) scored the New York’s second shorthanded goal in two games while Adam Pelech (1) ripped a shot from the point to send the home crowd into the second intermission feeling good.
The Penguins started off a memorable third period with a quick goal by Jared McCann (5). The long-distance wrister gave his team the spark it lacked through the first two frames as the Penguins started buzzing. Later, Bryan Rust extended his point streak to five games at 6:16 with a wrist shot from the right circle to make it 3-2 and Evgeni Malkin found a rebound to tie the game. Neither team found the tiebreaker in regulation and the stage remained set for heroics in OT.
The Penguins flew out of the gates in OT and forced numerous chances against shellshocked New York. Bryan Rust capped the game when he stole the puck from Brock Nelson behind the net and beat his man on a wraparound. Matt Murray shook a rocky first two periods to earn the win with a 20 save effort. Semyon Varlamov on the other side started hot, fizzled out, and stopped 35 of 39 shots.
Chicago ended Vancouver’s eight-game point streak with a 5-2 win, Thursday. Patrick Kane had a goal and two assists for the Chicago while Dylan Strome tallied three assists. J.T. Miller and Jake Virtanen scored the only goals for Vancouver in the loss. Corey Crawford stopped 36 of 38 shots to earn the win for Chicago including 11 in the first period. Jake Markstrom made 32 saves in the loss but did start strong.
Olli Maatta returns to Pittsburgh for the first time since the June 15 swap that netted the Penguins Dominik Kahun. Maatta has tallied four assists so far this year while playing in all 15 of Chicago’s games. Kahun has recorded at least one point in three of his last four appearances. Since October 26, Kahun’s five points rank second on the team.
In his last four games, Jared McCann has recorded two goals, three assists, and five points. McCann’s team-leading plus-12 ranks second among NHL forwards and fourth among all NHL skaters.
Alex Galchenyuk appears to be elevated to a top-line role, Saturday. Despite showing chemistry on Malkin’s line, he needs to improve his play to stick.
There do not appear to be any scouts in attendance tonight.
Or they’re hiding. Peekaboo? pic.twitter.com/UpQ4HusYQQ
— Dan Kingerski (@TheDanKingerski) November 9, 2019
Patric Hornqvist (Lower-body, IR)
Kris Letang (Undisclosed, Week to Week)
Colin Murphy (Groin, IR)
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||23.7%, 4th NHL||77.4%, 27th NHL|
|New York Islanders||18.8%, 21st NHL||83.7%, 6th NHL|
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jared McCann||Jeff Carter||Freddy Gaudreau|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Teddy Blueger||Brandon Tanev|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Mike Matheson||Cody Ceci|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
*Editors note; the original version of the story incorrectly stated Robin Lehner would start for Chicago. Corey Crawford started.