Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan did more than shuffle the Penguins lines Sunday morning during the morning skate. Sullivan made wholesale changes to the bottom three lines and also acknowledged the Penguins don’t have a defenseman comfortable playing on their off-side. And, the Penguins will go for their fourth straight win Sunday night against the New York Rangers at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins beat New York 4-3 (SO) on Friday night. Full breakdown and report card here (PHN+). The turning point was Sullivan’s fiery timeout message after New York scored three goals in under six minutes (Pittsburgh Hockey Now)
Tristan Jarry stopped 31 of 34 shots for his first win of the season.
The Penguins have not been great, or even consistently good, but they’ve won three in a row. In fact, each win has been a come-from-behind overtime or shootout win. That’s why Vegas isn’t so keen on the Penguins, but we’ll get to that.
At the morning skate, Sullivan made changes to every line except the top. Center Evgeni Malkin doesn’t yet have an even-strength goal, and worse, he’s not been his galloping Russian self. Jared McCann will take the left wing with Malkin and Bryan Rust, while Jason Zucker will take the third line.
However, the third line will be centered by Teddy Bleuger, not Mark Jankowski, with Kasperi Kapanen. For Kapanen, it’s another step forward, as he ascends to the third line.
Jankowski will get the fourth line with Brandon Tanev on the left and Colton Sceviour on the right.
“We’re trying to find combinations that help us have success and give us the balance we need. So, there’s a number of things we discussed when we’re putting line combinations or defense pairings together,” Sullivan said. “We’ve kept certain line combinations together here for a little while, and we feel … a little bit of change might be good for the group.”
Zucker has one assist in five games. Malkin has one power-play goal, though Rust has four points (1g, 3a), including a pair of power-play points.
McCann scored his first goal of the season via a power play on Friday night. Actually, it was an own goal by New York defenseman Ryan Lindgren, but it still counts. McCann has three points (1g, 2a) this season playing with Jankowski and Tanev.
“When you look at Jared McCann, he has shown an ability to score goals,” Sullivan said. “He’s got a great shot, and he brings a certain element of speed to any line that he plays on.
On the New York side, defenseman (trigger warning) Jack Johnson will be scratched.
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:
*Nine Penguins recorded a point in the Penguins 4-3 (SO) win over New York on Friday.
*Sidney Crosby is tied for third all-time in NHL history with 17 OT goals.
*The Penguins have points in eight-straight games versus New York (5-0-3).
*Bryan Rust has a four-game point streak. He fired a career-high 11 shots on Goal on Friday night.
*The Penguins are 10-3-1 in their last 14 home games dating back to last season (Jan. 14, 2020).
*Kris Letang’s shootout goal on Friday was the 25th of his career. No other defenseman in NHL history has more than 14 shootout goals.
*P-O Joseph scored an assist in his NHL debut on Friday when he set up Teddy Blueger’s game-tying goal in the third period.
Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Rickard Rakell|
|Danton Heinen||Ryan Poehling||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Brock McGinn||Sam Poulin||Drew O'Connor|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||Jeff Petry|
|P.O Joseph||Jan Rutta|
New York Rangers Lines
|Chris Kreider||Mika Zibanejad||Pavel Buchnevich|
|Artemi Panarin||Ryan Strome||Colin Blackwell|
|Alexis Lafreniere||Filip Chytil||Kappo Kaako|
|Philip Di Giuseppi||Kevin Rooney||Vitali Kravstov|
|Ryan Lindgren||Adam Fox|
|K'Andre Miller||Jacob Trouba|
|Libor Hajek||Brendan Smith|
Penguins Betting Odds
I must confess, I’m having fun with the odds this season. The Penguins are a 1.5 goal favorite, but Vegas absolutely hates their chances to cover, so it will pay out nearly 3-1.
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There are two bets that we like on Sunday night. It’s hard not to like that payout if the Penguins cover. $10 pays $29. We’ll take that. The view from this seat is the Penguins are coming together, slowly. Outside of disastrous walkabouts, opponents haven’t been able to score on the Penguins. Perhaps Mike Sullivan’s timeout speech from Friday night will linger.
The Penguins have hit on the OVER in every game this season, but our gut feeling says this is the end of the string.
PHN is 3-2 on our picks this season. This is for fun. Don’t bet more than you’re comfortable losing, aight?
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