The Pittsburgh Penguins (26-17-6) seek a confidence-boosting win tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning (37-10-2) at PPG Paints Arena. Perhaps more valuable than points is a chance for the Penguins to prove they can go blow-for-blow with the top team in the Eastern Conference. Tampa Bay maintains a 13 point lead in the conference and seems destined to have home ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
After two straight games of six or more goals allowed as a team, the Penguins turn Matt Murray in net. Murray is 14-7-1 with a 9.08 GAA and a 3.00 goals against average.
After winning only five out the last ten games, the Penguins are clinging to the final playoff spot in the conference. The Penguins trail the NY Islanders by five points for first in the Metropolitan Division but can leapfrog into second place with a win tonight. The Penguins are the only Metropolitan team active on Wednesday.
The New Jersey Devil proved to be a chronic thorn in the Penguins side as New Jersey handed them a 6-3 lost, Monday. New Jersey, despite missing 2018 Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall, soared to a 3-0 lead and never relinquished it. The Penguins attempted a comeback in the second period when Derick Brassard (9) scored a power-play goal but the Penguins could not build on the breakthrough. Matt Murray allowed six goals for the first time since Oct. 4th, which was his first start of the season. Murray stopped only 26 of 32 shots.
Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid stopped 37 shots and made clutch stops on the five Penguins powerplay opportunities.
The Penguins lost the special teams battle while allowing two powerplay goals and surrendering their league-leading 11th shorthanded goal to New Jersey. However, Matt Cullen (5)scored a shorthanded goal of his own for the Penguins. The results with the man advantage prompted head coach Mike Sullivan to threaten imminent changes for the Penguins powerplay.
Evgeni Malkin helped set up a late goal by Bryan Rust (12) on Monday night. The helper was the 599th assist of Malkin’s career. Malkin will become the 89th player in NHL history to record 600 assists.
Tampa Bay plays tonight for the first time since the All-Star break. Their last game was a 6-3 win over the San Jose Sharks, Jan. 19th. Steven Stamkos (25,26) had two goals in the win. Andre Vasilevskiy had 36 saves for Tampa Bay.
Teddy Blueger might make his debut tonight after a well-deserved call-up yesterday.
Justin Schultz (Fractured Leg. IR)
Zach Aston-Reese (IR)
Tyler Johnson (Lower Body Injury, Day-to-day)
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||15.1% (11-73) 27th NHL||92.2% (5-64) 1st NHL|
|Anaheim Ducks||26.3% (20-76) 5th NHL||86.3% (10-76) 3rd NHL|
(Lines updated after warmup)
|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|
Scouts in Attendance (21)
24 Scouts in Attendance Tonight (Updated & Correct Tweet)
Red Wings (3) Incl Howe
— Dan Kingerski (@TheDanKingerski) January 30, 2019