How quickly a torrid winning streak can become a losing streak. The Pittsburgh Penguins (21-10-5) have won 11 of 13 but lost two of three. A win on Saturday night against the San Jose Sharks (20-17-1) out the Penguins in the right column on their six-game road trip, but a loss means they have lost three of four. The puck drops at the SAP Center after 10:30 p.m. EST.
The Penguins are still settling in with Evgeni Malkin. The superstar center scored a pair of goals in his 2021-22 maiden voyage against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday but was then not so good, along with linemates Jeff Carter and Kasperi Kapanen, in the 6-2 loss to the LA Kings on Thursday.
The roller coaster will continue for a while, but the Penguins need better efforts from several more players. Kapanen remains chief among the Penguins who have more to give.
The Penguins defensemen were also no bueno on Thursday. It was one of the worst games top pair Brian Dumoulin and Kris Letang have ever played together. They will need to rebound. The Penguins’ second-pairing, Marcus Pettersson and John Marino, were quickly victimized for a pair of goals against as part of LA’s three goals in 83-seconds barrage.
These Pittsburgh Penguins don’t usually let things linger, but the adjustment period may not be over.
Brock McGinn will be back in the lineup. He was cleared from COVID protocol on Thursday but was unavailable to play. However, Bryan Rust (Jan. 8), Casey DeSmith (Jan. 9), Danton Heinen (Jan. 11), Zach Aston-Reese (Jan. 11) are still listed on the COVID protocol.
UPDATE: Louis Domingue will start for the Penguins, his first NHL start this season. He candidly responded to PHN in training camp that being shuffled around the league, and between the NHL and AHL during the pandemic sapped his motivation but Penguins goalie coach Andy Chiodo recharged his desire.
What to Watch:
The San Jose Sharks are beginning to believe they are a playoff team. The organization is finally clear of the Evander Kane saga, and fresh winds are blowing in the Bay Area. Co-top defenseman Erik Karlsson is having a resurgent year with 22 points (4-18-22) in 30 games, and San Jose is in third place in the Pacific Division.
Tomas Hertl has also scored 20 goals, and the team is offering their top-line center a new contract, or he could be NHL trade bait. His linemate, Timo Meier, is also on fire with 39 points (15-24-39) in 33 games.
The Penguins have to rebound from some iffy performances. They tanked third periods in Dallas and LA. Perhaps a season of playing shorthanded is catching up with them, or it’s a momentary blip in an 82-game schedule.
If one person calls you a horse, ignore it. If two people call you a horse, consider it. If three people call you a horse…buy a saddle. The Penguins are at two.
The team activated their defensemen more on the road trip. Pettersson has been good, Letang has consistently been very good, then…not so good against LA.
Watch for the Penguins form to continue taking shape.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Rickard Rakell|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Bryan Rust|
|Radim Zohorna||Teddy Blueger||Brock McGinn|
|Drew O'Connor||Ryan Poehling||Drake Caggiula|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||Jeff Petry|
|Ty Smith||Jan Rutta|
San Jose Sharks Lines, per PuckPedia.com:
Pittsburgh Penguins Betting Odds
The Sharks hit the Under more than 60% and have failed to win the first period in each of the last six times they faced a superior opponent. The Penguins are money in the first period. The Penguins have the best first-period goal differential (+24) in the NHL.
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Penguins -1.5 (+148). Sharks +1.5 (-180)
Moneyline: Penguins -167. Sharks +138
Over/Under 6: Over +102. Under -124
Penguins Bets we like:
Jake Guentzel to score multiple points: +225
Penguins to win the first period: +143
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
*For the first time in months, the Pittsburgh Penguins PK is both below 90% and not the first-ranked unit in the league (89.9%, 2nd in the NHL)
*The Penguins’ power-play remains in the bottom third of the league (17.8%, 22nd). San Jose isn’t better (17.0%, 24th).
F Jason Zucker, lower-body (6 consecutive, 6 total)
F Brock McGinn, COVID-19 (3 consecutive, 3 total)
F Bryan Rust, COVID-19 (3 consecutive, 21 total)
F Zach Aston-Reese, COVID-19 (2 consecutive, 4 total)
F Danton Heinen, COVID-19 (2 consecutive, 2 total)
G Casey DeSmith, COVID-19 (2 consecutive, 2 total)
2021-22 Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 126
*The Penguins are on a three-game losing streak in San Jose.
*The Penguins are averaging the sixth-most goals per game (3.26) and third-fewest (2.42) goals against per game on the road this season.
*First-period magic: The Penguins plus-24 goal differential in the first period is best in the NHL, allowing a league-low 14 goals against.
*The Penguins are the least penalized team in the NHL, averaging 6:35 penalty minutes per game.
*Sidney Crosby has been plus or even in all but one of his last 13 games (+15).
*Jake Guentzel is two goals shy of the 20-goal mark for the fifth consecutive season.
How to Watch:
TV: AT&T Sportsnet; Radio: 105.9 The X