The Pittsburgh Penguins (7-5-1) have a chance to go 4-0-0 against the Washington Capitals (6-4-3) on Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena. The Penguins and Washington are tied with 15 points this season, but the Penguins have only two regulation wins, so they trail Washington for the fourth and final playoff spot in the MattMutual East Division. Thursday night winner gets the spot.
The Penguins lines rolled, and they coasted to their second regulation win this season on Sunday afternoon when they beat Washington 6-3. Zach Aston-Reese, then Sidney Crosby scored empty-net goals. Bryan Rust was the star. He scored a pair of goals and the Penguins defense showed flashes of life, especially Mike Matheson.
Tuesday, the Penguins may get Marcus Pettersson back. The defenseman has been a full participant in the last two Penguins practices and the full lineup is a “game-time decision” to deflect revealing if Pettersson is a go.
Pettersson would figure to take the left side with Cody Ceci on the right of the third pair, so coaches could more easily manage his minutes.
Tristan Jarry was also very good.
“I thought Tristan took a big step (Sunday). He made some big saves for us,” Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said. “I thought we defended hard in front of him, but certainly when we broke down he was there to make big stops. I thought his second period, in particular, I thought they had some real quality chances and Tristan did a real good job … Hopefully Tristan will gain some confidence off this, he certainly should.”
Tristan Jarry will again be the Penguins starting goalie on Tuesday. Casey DeSmith missed Sunday due to a non-COVID-related illness is expected to back up. Sullivan said DeSmith skated in the optional morning skate.
The Capitals will likely start Vitek Vanecek again. Craig Anderson who signed on the eve of training camp and hasn’t yet started a game is the other option. The Penguins have scored nine goals on Vanacek over two games, including four on Sunday.
Analysis: What to Watch
Has anyone been complaining about the Penguins lines? They have been bedrock stable.
Watch the special teams battle. The Washington Capitals have a potent power play, and the Penguins PK is just starting to play well. Jarry will face a few more shots from Ovechkin’s office.
“Yeah, you watch videos and tendencies and what their power play likes to do,” Jarry said. “He’s a big threat. He’s scored a lot of goals. He’s a person you have to key on and be prepared for when he does shoot it.”
Zach Aston-Reese has made a noticeable difference on the PK, as well as the newbies getting more comfortable.
The Penguins power play have several Grade-A chances and scored quickly on their second opportunity. The play the Penguins used was essentially to create speed on the wing, as they drew the PK to the point.
One direct matchup to watch will be the Evgeni Malkin Penguins lines matchup. Nick Backstrom did a solid job against Malkin in the last game, but the Penguins wingers won their battles, so it was a draw, except for Backstrom sniping a goal from a puck lost in Malkin’s skates.
The other is the third lines. Lars Eller has been a Penguins killer, but the Penguins third line with Aston-Reese–Teddy Blueger–Brandon Tanev has been a lightning bolt and dominated other teams.
Pittsburgh Penguins Lines & Special Teams
|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|
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||(28 for 122) 22.0% 10th NHL||(96 for 125) 76.8% 24th NHL|
|Philadelphia Flyers||(26 for 132) 19.7% T-19th NHL||(93 for 127) 73.2% 30th NHL|
We hit the daily double on Sunday when we hit the Penguins on the OVER and the Money Line. We like the Penguins again on Tuesday. This season, we’re 8-6, and in the black!
If you’re going to plunk a few shekels on the game, here’s a code to get a $250 deposit match at Bet Rivers Casino.
The OVER is 6.5, we’ll gladly take that again. The odds are forever in our favor there. A $10 bet pays $18.30.
For the hardcore gambler — Mark Jankowski is now the center of PP2 and the net-front presence. The second-unit is looking pretty good in practice. A $2 bet pays $9.50. A Mike Matheson goal would pay $13.00. But these bets are for fun and off the record.
Position, Player (Consecutive Games Missed, Total Games Missed)
D Zach Trotman (13 consecutive, 13 total)
F Sam Miletic (13 consecutive, 13 total)
D Marcus Pettersson (9 consecutive, 9 total)
D Juuso Riikola (9 consecutive, 9 total)
F Evan Rodrigues (7 consecutive, 7 total)
D Brian Dumoulin (6 consecutive, 6 total)
F Jared McCann (2 consecutive, 2 total)
G Casey DeSmith (1 consecutive, 1 total)
2020-21 Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 80
Penguins Game Notes
*The Penguins are 9-2-0 against Washington at PPG Paints Arena since March 20, 2016. The Penguins are averaging 4.9 goals per game.
*Zach Aston-Reese has goals in back-to-back games for the second time in his career.
*Kris Letang earned two assists on Sunday, which extended his point streak to three games (0g, 4A). The two-assist night also gives Letang back-to-back multi-assist games against the Capitals (4a).
*Bryan Rust was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week for the week ending Feb. 14 following a week that saw him record five points (3g, 2a) in two games. Rust’s three goals were tied for the most in the NHL over the course of the week.
*The Penguins are now the fourth team in NHL history to erase a deficit in each of their first seven or more wins of a season:
- 10 – BUF (2013-14)
- 7 – PIT (2020-21)
- 7 – DET (1988-89)
- 7 – VAN (1980-81)
How to Watch
TV: AT&T SportsNet, NBCSN
Radio: 105.9 The X