The Pittsburgh Penguins (13-8-4) always seem to have a little drama. Despite winning their last two games in regulation with resounding performances, the Penguins could face trouble on Tuesday night with a shorthanded roster missing star centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins host the always tough but struggling Columbus Blue Jackets (8-13-2) Tuesday at PPG Paints Arena.
The puck drops just after 7 p.m.
The Penguins could be down to only 10 forwards if Crosby and Malkin cannot play due to illness. Each missed practice on Monday. Teams must play one game with a short roster before being allowed an emergency call-up, and according to PuckPedia.com, the Penguins have a meager $72,823 salary cap space.
Per our Shelly Anderson, Malkin and DeSmith took the morning skate on Tuesday, which is a good sign. Crosby did not skate, but Anderson reported he was at the arena.
Coach Mike Sullivan termed Crosby and Malkin as likely to play. Ryan Poehling worked out with assistant coach Ty Hennes early in the morning on Monday and Tuesday and is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He will not play against Columbus.
The Penguins BBQ’d the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, 6-2. The second line with Bryan Rust, Jason Zucker, and Evgeni Malkin combined for 10 points. Rust had four (1-3-4), Zucker had three (1-2-3), and Malkin had three helpers. Kasperi Kapanen had a hat trick, and the Penguins chased Blues goalie Jordan Binnington by the early second period.
The Penguins hold the top wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and trail the New York Islanders by two points for third place. The Penguins have a game in hand on New York. They lead the Detroit Red Wings by one point, and Detroit has a game in hand on the Penguins.
It remains a fluid situation.
The Columbus Blue Jackets were one of the Penguins’ victims at the beginning of the season. The Penguins had four wins in five games and scored six goals in each win, including over Columbus at Nationwide Arena, before embarking on their winless western Canada road trip.
Columbus has just one win in their last five games, and offensive production has been sparse. They lost to Detroit on Saturday, 4-2. Marcus Bjork and Kent Johnson scored for Columbus.
Johnny Gaudreau leads the team with 26 points (8-18-26) in 23 games. Patrik Laine is the other star winger, but he has been limited to just 10 games.
With Casey DeSmith ill on Monday and the Penguins not playing again until Friday in Buffalo, Tristan Jarry is the likely starter. The Penguins No. 1 goalie has upped his save percentage to .915 after stopping 164 of the last 172 shots.
Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins have split the Columbus net almost evenly. Merzlikins will start Tuesday. He has a 2-5-0 record with an .864 save percentage.
Possible Pittsburgh Penguins Lines:
Archibald — — Heinen
Expected Blue Jackets Lines per PuckPedia.com:
Penguins Power Play: 15 for 82, 18.3%, 26th
Penguins Penalty Kill: 15 for 77, 80.5%, 9th
Columbus Power Play: 9 for 58, 15.5%, 32nd
Columbus Penalty Kill: 16 of 72, 77.8%, 19th
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:
*Last season, the Penguins were a perfect 4-0-0 against the Blue Jackets and are 1-0-0 against them this year
*The Penguins are 16-3-1 in its last 20 games against Columbus, dating back to Feb. 3, 2017.
*The Penguins have points in 11 of its last 13 games (9-2-2). Since this 13- game stretch began on Nov. 9, only the New Jersey Devils (21) have picked up more points.
*Tristan Jarry is 5-1-0 in his career vs. Columbus, with a 1.77 GAA and a 9.36 save percentage.
*Jeff Carter is one assist shy of 400 in his career. He will become the sixth player from the 2003 draft class to collect 400 goals and 400 assists. Eric Staal (441G-595A), Patrice Bergeron (409G-594A), Joe Pavelski (431G-521A), Corey Perry (408G-460A), and Zach Parise (416G-441A) are the others.
How to Watch:
TV: AT&T SportsNet; Radio: 105.9 The X
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We split the Penguins vs. Blues game. We liked the Penguins ✅, but we liked the Under ❌. Silly me thought the Blues would play defense, and Jordan Binnington would not go batty.
Columbus is a tough bet. They don’t score often, but they usually rise to meet the Penguins’ challenge. With Elvis Merlikins in the net (with an .864 save percentage), the Penguins playing exceptionally well, facing adversity, and more adversity, the Penguins betting tip here is to take the Penguins but the Under.
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