The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Nashville Predators, who they also beat for the 2017 Stanley Cup, Thursday night. Saturday night, the Penguins (40-24-11) are in the “Lonestar State” to throw down with the franchise they defeated for the 1991 Stanley Cup, the Dallas Stars (38-30-6) at American Airlines Center. The friendly confines of American Airlines Arena have provided Dallas with a sanctuary as they hold a 22-13-3 record at home, but are under .500 on the road.
Check out the pregame show on WPXI (Channel 11) tonight at 7:30–Our Dan Kingerski is this week’s cohost.
The Penguins continued to have trouble holding leads Thursday but still reside in the thick of the Metropolitan Division race. Despite losing two of the last three games, the Penguins are tied for second place in the Metro with a division title still possible. Washington holds the top spot and continues their strong play, but lost to Minnesota Friday night and hold only a three-point lead on the Penguins and New York Islanders.
With Columbus’ recent struggle and the Penguins improving play, the magic number to clinch is now 10.
Thursday, the Penguins went to OT for the third straight game but won in the shootout 2-1 against the Nashville. After surrendering the tying goal with a 3:01 to play, the Penguins dominated overtime and Sidney Crosby scored the lone shootout goal.
Bryan Rust (18) scored the Penguins only goal with a backhand sweep across the crease later in the second period. Rust continued to provide the Penguins a spark and has scored 3 points since returning from injury. The goal appeared to be the only one needed for Penguins victory as Nashville had trouble sustaining offensive pressure and looked overpowered by the Penguin’s speed and physicality.
However, for the fifth time in 14 games, the Penguins allowed the late lead dissipate. Ryan Ellis (7) kept a puck in, skated to the right of the net and flicked a wrister which trickled between goalie Matt Murray and the post.
In OT, the Penguins played the better period and allowed Nashville only one shot but could not find the back of the net until the shootout.
Murray stopped 28 of 29 shots and stopped all three Nashville shooters in the shootout. Murray extended his shutout streak of Nashville to 263:25 minutes before Ellis’ goal. Pekka Rinne started for Nashville and was equally brilliant. Rinne was perhaps more so because of the quality of the Penguins chances. He stopped 32 of 33 shots.
Penguins defenseman Jack Johnson was disruptive in the game and added four hits including a powerful jam on Nashville’s Filip Forsberg. Johnson has set a career-high in hits this season and has joined an elite company of Penguins thumpers.
Dallas could not cool down the Colorado Avalanche in a 3-1 loss, Thursday. Tyler Seguin (28) scored the only goal for Dallas and registered ten shots. Ben Bishop started for Dallas and stopped 29 of 31 shots. Philipp Grubauer was tested but denied 44 for Colorado.
Marcus Pettersson will be skating in his 100th career game, tonight. Pettersson has been a quiet contributor for the Penguins but is top three in among rookie defensemen in assists, points, and plus-minus.
The Pens will be facing former Pittsburgh defenseman Jamie Oleksiak for the first time tonight after trading him back to Dallas on Jan. 28 for a 2019 fourth-round pick. The pick was the same selection the Penguins traded to acquire Oleksiak during the 2017-18 season.
Olli Maatta (Upper-Body, IR. Skating, full contact)
Chad Ruhwedel (Long term)
Zach Aston Reese (Longer Term)
Stephen Johns (Upper Body, IR)
Marc Methot (Lower Body, Out for the Season)
Martin Hanzal (Back, Out for the Season)
Tyler Pitlick (Upper Body, IR)
Mats Zuccarello (Broken Arm)
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||12.5% (12th NHL)||80.0% (9th NHL)|
|New York Islanders||20.0% (8th NHL)||87.5% (4th NHL)|
Penguins +100. Over/Under 5.5 -10
Expected Penguins Lines
|Jared McCann||Sidney Crosby||Jake Guentzel|
|Bryan Rust||Evgeni Malkin||Phil Kessel|
|Dominik Simon||Nick Bjugstad||Patric Hornqvist|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Matt Cullen||Garrett Wilson|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Jack Johnson||Justin Schultz|
|Marcus Pettersson||Erik Gudbranson|