The Pittsburgh Penguins ( 15-11-6) face the Anaheim Ducks ( 18-11-5) Monday at PPG Paints Arena in a matchup of two teams in a playoff position. The Penguins are 3rd in the Metropolitan Division and hope to make up previously lost ground in the division as they start a week with four games. The Penguins will play tonight, back-to-back Wednesday and Thursday, then finish the week on Saturday before the NHL Holiday Break, which lasts through Dec. 26. The Penguins lines look similar but the defense will have a couple changes.
The Penguins are coming off a 4-3 OT win against the LA Kings Saturday night. Phil Kessel scored the game-winning goal, which was a power-play tally with one minute remaining in overtime. Goalie Matt Murray earned the win in his first game back from a seven-game IR stint. Despite surrendering 3 goals to the last place Kings, Murray posted a healthy .927 save % on 41 shots faced. The Penguins did squander a pair of two-goal leads. Former Kings forward Tanner Pearson, who was netted in the November trade with LA for Carl Hagelin, scored his 4th goal of the year, and fourth with the Penguins. Bryan Rust (1g, 1a) scored as did Matt Cullen (3) who potted a shorthanded goal.
Saturday, the Anaheim Ducks gave the Penguins some help by beating Penguins Metro Division foe, the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 in OT. The Ducks got both goals from newly acquired Daniel Sprong, who scored the game-tying goal in the first period, and the OT game-winner. Since being acquired, Sprong has scored 3 goals in 5 games on 13 shots for the Ducks while hovering between the second and third line RW spot. The Ducks were outshot by the Blue Jackets 37 to 22 but, were backed by a strong goaltending effort from John Gibson, which proved to be pivotal as he won his 3rd straight start and has allowed only 5 goals in that span. Markus Nutivaara (4) had the only goal for the Blue Jackets in the first period.
The Penguins are currently 6-3-1 in their last 10 games with a 2 game win streak. Anaheim is 8-2 riding a three-game win streak.
Penguins Defenseman Marcus Pettersson and Ducks Winger Daniel Sprong will be playing their former teams for the first time since the Dec. 3rd. trade. The defensive defenseman Pettersson has yet to tally a point for his new team but has averaged 15:32 minutes of ice time while being +1.
Ducks Goaltender John Gibson, who is from Pittsburgh, will make his fourth career start in his hometown, Monday night. The Whitehall native is 1-2 at PPG Paints Arena and is 3-3 overall against the Penguins with a .895 save percentage. The 25-year-old netminder pays homage to Pittsburgh on his alternate goalie mask which features the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers logos and the Pittsburgh skyline.
Casey DeSmith will start in goal for the Penguins. John Gibson for Anaheim.
It also appears Jack Johnson will be a healthy scratch and Kris Letang will get a sweater., based on the morning skate. See today’s skate notes for more on the Penguins injuries and who else returned to the ice.
UPDATE: Johnson and Letang were in the lineup. Juuso Riikola was the healthy scratch.
Patric Hornqvist (Upper Body. IR)
Kris Letang (Lower Body.)
Justin Schultz (Fractured Leg. IR)
Dominik Simon (Lower Body. IR)
Corey Perry (Knee. IR)
Korninian Holzer (Wrist. IR)
Patrick Eaves (Broken Rib. IR)
Rickard Rakell (Ankle Sprain. IR)
Ryan Miller (MCL Sprain. IR)
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||(25 for 117) 21.4% 14th NHL||(93 for 122) 76.2% T-24th NHL|
|New Jersey Devils||(16 for 112) 14.3% 28th NHL||(79 for 109) 72.5% 31st NHL|
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Jared McCann||Evan Rodrigues|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Frederick Gaudreau||Sam Lafferty|
|Radim Zohorna||Mark Jankowski||Colton Sceviour|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Mike Matheson||Cody Ceci|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
Scouts In Attendance
Winnipeg Jets (3rd straight game)
Edmonton Oilers (Regional Scout)
Colorado Avalanche (3rd straigt game)
New York Rangers (Local Scout)
New Jersey Devils
Ottawa Senators (second time in three games)