The Pittsburgh Penguins (37-16-9) make their final trip to the Gila River Arena to face the perennially hapless Arizona Coyotes (20-36-4) on Saturday afternoon. Next season, Arizona will begin a three-year residency in a 5,000 seat college hockey arena at Arizona State. The Penguins have won three of their last four, only losing to the Nashville Predators despite significantly outshooting and chancing them.
After a run of games against the best in the NHL, including Tampa Bay, Florida, Carolina, and St. Louis, facing the downtrodden Coyotes in an afternoon game has every earmark of a trap game.
The puck drops just after 5 p.m. EST.
Mike Matheson and Chad Ruhwedel scored for the Penguins on Thursday night as the Penguins beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 in a shootout at Enterprise Arena. Bryan Rust scored in the fourth round of the shootout for the win. Rust is 3-for-3 in the shootout this season and 5-for-5 in his career.
Tristan Jarry stopped 22 of 24 shots to win his 30th game of the season and become just the fourth goalie in franchise history to reach the mark.
“He’s a great kid. He really prides himself on his game, and I have so much admiration for how he’s approached this whole season. (Jarry) has a certain look in his eye that he’s determined to prove people wrong, that he’s a legit No. 1 goaltender in this league. We believe in him, and he’s done a great job for us,” head coach Mike Sullivan said.
The Washington Capitals beat the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night, which means the Penguins are five points behind Carolina, which has one game in hand for the Metro Division lead.
The Penguins are two points ahead of the New York Rangers for third place, but New York has one game in hand, too.
Jarry will likely start for the Penguins, but because the team didn’t have an on-ice practice on Friday, we don’t know if Zach Aston-Reese will be ready to return to the lineup.
In a fun twist, Phil Kessel is on the Arizona second line. Riley Nash is the center with other former Penguins winger Alex Galchenyuk. Kessel has six goals this season. Galchenyuk has five.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Rickard Rakell||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jason Zucker||Jeff Carter||Danton Heinen|
|Brock McGinn||Teddy Blueger||Evan Rodrigues|
|Mike Matheson||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Mark Friedman||Chad Ruhwedel|
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
*The Arizona special teams are abysmal. The power play ranks 32nd (13.1%). The penalty kill is 31st (73.1%). The Penguins’ power play has fallen to 15th at 20.5%. The PK is third (86.3%).
*John Marino hit the 20-point plateau for the second time in his career. Marino is one of 34 defensemen in Penguins history to have two or more seasons of 20-plus points.
*The Penguins are a league-best 20-7-4 in 31 games on the road. The team’s road wins (20), points (44), points percentage (.710), goals against (72), goals-against per game (2.32), and penalty kill percentage (88.6%) all lead the NHL
*In his last seven games, Jarry is 6-1-0 with a 1.82 goals-against average, a .941 save percentage, and one shutout.
How to Watch:
TV: AT&T SportsNet; Radio: 105.9 The X