Pittsburgh Penguins (6-5-1) have been the cardiac kids of the 2020-21 NHL season. The team has not led after two periods and won yet this season, but they have six wins, including their comeback win on Thursday night against the New York Islanders. The Penguins face their bitter rival, the Washington Capitals (6-3-3), at 3 p.m.
Thursday night, Evgeni Malkin blasted a slapshot through traffic to tie the game with 18 seconds remaining. Sidney Crosby scored a shootout goal for the winner.
The Penguins beat the Washington Capitals in the third and fourth games of the season. Both games went beyond regulation as the Penguins won 4-3 in a shootout and 5-4 in OT.
However, Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry has never faced Washington.
A little side note, as PHN+ reported last January, Jarry was greatly disappointed when coaches laid out the schedule, which put Matt Murray in the net for the coming games against Washington.
This season, Jarry has struggled. He is 2-4-1 with a 3.95 GAA and a paltry .857 save percentage. Though it should be noted, Jarry was not well protected early in the season, especially while getting shelled in Philadelphia during the first two games of the season. Those games further depressed his numbers.
PHN directly asked Sullivan if Jarry was still the No. 1 goalie
“We know Tristan and Casey are both capable guys. They’ve had their ups and downs through this early part of the season. We’re trying to help them through that process and, at the same time, make the best decision for the team to help us win games.”
We’ll dive more into Sullivan’s full answer and the results tonight on PHN.
Washington sent starter Ilya Samsonov to Hersey of the AHL, so Vitek Vanecek and Craig Anderson will function as the Capitals goalies in the two-game series. Samsonov has not played since Jan. 17, when he tested positive and entered the NHL COVID protocols.
The Penguins beat Vanecek on Jan. 19. The goalie stopped only 25 of 30 shots in the loss.
Casey DeSmith got the win for the Penguins.
What to Watch
The Washington Capitals have outscored their opponents 15-10 in the first period, but the Penguins have been outscored 19-12. Watch the first period.
Washington is a banging, physical team. T.J. Oshie took out Marcus Petterson with a blindside, high hit in January. Pettersson hasn’t played since. Washington will beat and bang on the Penguins, and Tom Wilson and Oshie especially punish the Penguins defensemen.
What is different is P-O Joseph. He is fast enough to evade the pounding Washington forecheck. How will he respond to what will likely be his most physical game to date?
Evgeni Malkin vs. Alex Ovechkin. The two have grown close, again, as offseason videos showed them celebrating Ovechkin’s birthday and Malkin delivering a roasting speech.
Malkin is beginning to shake off the funk that ensnared him to start the season. He has points in five of his last six games, and the game-tying goal on Thursday could propel him to the Super Malkin level he again achieved last season.
But, can the Penguins’ power play actually avoid looking more like a wet noodle? The power-play success rate has dropped to 13%. If you take out the pair of fluky goals scored in the first couple of games, the man-advantage has scored just three goals this season, and one was by PP2.
The Penguins PK has also been little more than a red cape. Today, they will face Ovechkin’s office as the 35-year-old Russian bombs away from the circle. Can Jarry defend the shot well, and will the PK clean the rebounds, or will the 70% unit continue to sink?
Pittsburgh Penguins Lines and Special Teams (Nightmare)
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jared McCann||Jeff Carter||Jason Zucker|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Teddy Blueger||Evan Rodrigues|
|Radim Zohorna||Mark Jankowski||Colton Sceviour|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Mike Matheson||Cody Ceci|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Alex Ovechkin||Evgeny Kuznetsov||Conor Sheary|
|Jakub Vrana||Nicklas Backstrom||Tom Wilson|
|Richard Panik||Lars Eller||T.J. Oshie|
|Carl Hagelin||Nic Dowd||Garnet Hathaway|
|Brenden Dillon||John Carlson|
|Dmitry Orlov||Justin Schultz|
|Zdeno Chara||Nick Jensen|
Penguins Betting Odds
We took the last game off from our prognostications, so we’re still 6-6 this season. If you’d like to have a little fun, here’s a link for PA residents to open an account with Bet Rivers Casino online and get a free deposit match of up to $250 (Bet Rivers)
We like the Penguins today, but the 1.5 spread is not our friend. A $10 bet on the Moneyline will pay $18.
Call this our hunch. We’re betting on the better version of Tristan Jarry showing up, even if the power play does not. There’s the twofer. Good luck, and don’t go overboard!
Pittsburgh Penguins INJURIES
F Sam Miletic (12 consecutive, 12 total)
D Marcus Pettersson (8 consecutive, 8 total)
D Juuso Riikola (8 consecutive, 8 total)
F Evan Rodrigues (6 consecutive, 6 total)
D Brian Dumoulin (5 consecutive, 5 total)
F Jared McCann (1 consecutive, 1 total)
2020-21 Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 72
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
*The Penguins are 6-1-1 in one-goal games this season.
*Frederick Gaudreau recalled from the taxi squad. F Jared McCann was placed on injured reserve.
*Evgeni Malkin has 68 points (22G-46A) in 49 career games against the Capitals, including 16 points (6G-10A) over his last 11 games versus Washington.
*The Penguins are 11-3-1 in their last 15 home games dating back to last season (Jan. 14, 2020). Sidney Crosby has 29 points (7G-22A) in those 15 games.
*Each of the Penguins’ first six wins of the 2020-21 season have been by a one-goal margin. Per NHL PR, the only other campaign in franchise history that saw the team earn each of their first six wins by a one-goal margin was 2003-04.
How to Watch
Radio: 105.9 The X