The Pittsburgh Penguins will battle the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues on Saturday, just 24 hours after losing to the Columbus Blue Jackets in one of their worst performances of the season. The Penguins don’t have much time to sulk over the bad effort Friday night but do need to correct aspects of their game, including the penalty kill which allowed a pair of goals in the 4-2 loss. Last season, the Penguins went 1-1-0 against St Louis, which included a 6-1 win on the road on December 29. The Penguins three-game winning streak and points in six straight games was snapped in the loss.
The Penguins will meet the defending Stanley Cup Champions twice in the span of four days. The Penguins and St Louis meet up again next Wednesday in Pittsburgh to conclude their home-and-home series.
Goalie Tristan Jarry played Friday, and Matt Murray receiving the nod Saturday. Murray was pulled in his last start after surrendering four goals on 14 shots, but does have good career numbers in the “Gateway to the West”. In two career starts in St Louis, Matt Murray is 2-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and a .969 save percentage. St Louis is projected to start Jordan Binnington, who has a 1.99 goals-against in two career starts against the Penguins.
Penguins Game Recap
The Penguins submitted arguably one of their worst efforts of the year in a 5-2 loss to Columbus, Friday. Despite boasting an improving power play and elite penalty kill, the Penguins’ special team’s let them down by only killing two of four penalties and not converting on four power plays. The Penguins and Columbus exchanged goals in the first to send the game to the first intermission tied. Columbus struck first with free-agent signee Gustav Nyquist’s first goal of the game and his fifth of the year. Nyquist forced a turnover and deflected a shot from the right circle to give his team the lead. The Penguins converted a two on one chance when Jake Guentzel (15) tallied late in the period.
The Penguins survived a bad first period and escaped with a tie, but the second proved unforgiving. Columbus struck early and often as they piled up three goals in the period to take a commanding lead. Nick Foligno (3,4) added two goals to bookend Gustav Nyquist’s second of the game and Columbus had a 4-1 lead before the period expired. The Penguins gave up two power-play markers in the period and despite drawing two penalties of their own, could not convert.
Down three and coming off two bad periods, the Penguins sought another crazy comeback but, could not overcome hot goaltending and defensive pressure. The Penguins made the game interesting with an early period goal by Kris Letang (6). Letang blasted a one-timer from the circle to trim the Penguins’ deficit to 4-2, but it was the only goal they could muster. Gustav Nyquist iced the game with less than a minute left to break hearts and cap off his hattrick. Joonas Korpisalo earned first star honors for his effort in net against the Penguins. Korpisalo made 29 saves including a series of pad stops to prevent the lead from further attack. Tristan Jarry stopped 25 of 29 shots in the loss.
St Louis score first, lost the lead and struck late to chalk up a 3-1 win against Dallas, Friday. Colton Parayko (2), Ryan O’Reilly (6) and Ivan Barbashev (3) had goals for St. Louis. Roope Hintz (11) tied the game in the third but had a costly turnover that led to the tie-breaking goal for St. Louis. Jake Allen stopped 31 of 32 shots in the win while Ben Bishop made 37 saves but still lost.
Kris Letang has 12 points in 14 career games against St Louis, which includes a three-assist night in St. Louis last year on December 29. He has three multi-point efforts in his last six games versus the Blues.
Jake Guentzel scored the Penguins’ first goal of the game and later assisted on Kris Letang’s goal Friday night in Columbus, extending his point streak to seven games, tying his career-high set earlier this season from October 5-18. The goal also extends his goal-scoring streak to four games, tying his season-long streak from Oct. 10-16. With a goal Saturday, he can tie his career-long of five games set from March 31-April 8, 2017.
Sidney Crosby (Core Muscle, 6+ Weeks)
Nick Bjugstad (Core Muscle, 6+ Weeks)
Justin Schultz (Lower-body)
Bryan Rust (Lower-body)
St Louis Blues
Vladimir Tarasenko (upper-body)
Alexander Steen (ankle sprain)
Sammy Blais (wrist)
Oskar Sundqvist (lower-body)
|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|