The East Division last-place Pittsburgh Penguins (1-2-0) will attempt to win two in a row and sweep the two-game set against the first-place Washington Capitals (2-0-1) on Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena. The Penguins lineup looks considerably different from the opening night, but that may be a blessing without disguise when the puck drops just after 7 p.m.
Top line winger Kasperi Kapanen will play.
The Penguins beat Washington 4-3 (SO) on Sunday afternoon. Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan compared Kapanen’s task to “having to jump on a moving train” (Pittsburgh Hockey Now)
Juuso Riikola will also draw into the lineup again. It is a new opportunity for the Finnish defenseman who now has an old friend in the room (PHN+)
Sullivan will again turn to backup goalie Casey DeSmith between the pipes. Since relieving starter Tristan Jarry in the second game of the season, DeSmith has stopped 32 of 36 shots over five-plus periods.
“I’ve had a couple of conversations with Tristan (Jarry). I think it’s going to give Tristan an opportunity to reset his mindset. Get a couple of workouts with (Mike Buckley), our goalie coach,” Sullivan said on Sunday evening. “I think that will be good for Tristan…”
DeSmith has a 2.13 GAA and an .889 save percentage.
The Penguins will face rookie Vitek Vaneck, who appears to have earned a goalie rotation in Washington after his jaw-dropping win against the Buffalo Sabres last Friday. Vanecek, 25, has a 1.00 GAA and a .968 save percentage.
Interesting, the Pittsburgh Penguins have never faced Vanecek before, but he and DeSmith have battled in the AHL.
According to WBS Penguins play-by-play Nick Hart:
DeSmith: 5-1-0, with a 2.47 GAA and .912 sv%
Vaněček: 2-4-1, 3.83 GAA, .853 sv%
Also drawing into the Penguins lineup on Tuesday, Kasperi Kapanen has cleared COVID/Travel protocols, practiced with the team on Monday, and will play.
The Washington Capitals and new coach Peter Laviolette also did some major tinkering. Tom Wilson has elevated to the Washington top line with Alex Ovechkin and Niclas Backstrom. Penguins killer T.J. Oshie has dropped to the third line with Lars Eller, and former Penguins prospect Daniel Sprong is on the second line with Evgeny Kuznetsov.
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jared McCann||Jeff Carter||Freddy Gaudreau|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Teddy Blueger||Brandon Tanev|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Mike Matheson||Cody Ceci|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Daniel Sprong||Evgeny Kuznetsov||Tom Wilson|
|Anthony Mantha||Nicklas Backstrom||T.J. Oshie|
|Conor Sheary||Lars Eller||Michael Raffl|
|Carl Hagelin||Nic Dowd||Garnet Hathaway|
|Dmitry Orlov||John Carlson|
|Brenden Dillon||Justin Schultz|
|Zdeno Chara||Nick Jensen|
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||23.7%, 4th NHL||77.4%, 27th NHL|
|New York Islanders||18.8%, 21st NHL||83.7%, 6th NHL|
*The Penguins have been outscored 7-4 in first periods and 5-1 in third periods.
*Mark Jankowski (3) and Brandon Tanev (3) are the Penguins leading scorers. Tanev has two goals and one assist.
*Injuries: Mike Matheson will miss his second game due to an upper-body injury. No timetable has been given. Zach Aston-Reese skated Tuesday morning, but Sullivan did not put a timetable on his return.
*Anthony Angello and Frederick Gaudreau were demoted to the AHL WBS Penguins. Sam Lafferty was demoted to the taxi squad, and defenseman Kevin Czuczman was promoted to the taxi squad.
*The Penguins have won seven of nine games against Washington dating back to March 2016.
*Evgeni Malkin is one game-winning goal from tying Mario Lemieux (74) for second place on the team’s all-time game-winning goals list.
*Alex Ovechkin is two goals shy of passing Mike Gartner (708) for the seventh most goals in NHL history.
*Nicklas Backstrom has recorded points in each of the Capitals’ first three games (2g, 2a).
*The Capitals have killed 12 of their 13 penalties this season (92.3 kill percentage), tied for the third-most killed penalties in the NHL.
Penguins Betting Odds
We’re having some fun and doing pretty well this year. PHN is an empty netter away from being 3-0 in our game picks. Alas, we’re just 2-1. Some of our Penguins betting success depends on how will Kasperi Kapanen fare? Will playing in his first game after a seven-day quarantine with only one practice be detrimental to the Penguins?
The Penguins have dominated four of the last six periods but have one win, which came via shootout.
Our friends at BetMGM offer up to a $500 match, so click here to claim the bonus.
The Pittsburgh Penguins betting line is +1.5 goals, and the payout is pretty good (+190). However, the Penguins and Capitals always come down to one goal, but we say go for it.
Evgeni Malkin can’t be stone-cold forever, can he?
How to Watch
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 105.9 The X