It will be a hockey night in Pittsburgh. Saturday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins open the home portion of their schedule after earning three of four points on the Florida road trip. During that swing, ESPN set a broadcasting record with the Penguins and Lightning’s first game of the season. The Penguins embark on an eight-game homestand which will see some familiar faces come to town.
Marc-Andre Fleury Set to Start Against Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday
Marc-Andre Fleury will start tomorrow against the Pittsburgh Penguins, not wearing Vegas gold but Chicago red. After being acquired from the Blackhawks in July of 2021 for next to nothing, Fleury is the Blackhawks unquestioned starter. However, he has yet to win a game thus far on the young 2021-22 season.
The Blackhawks will play a back-to-back on the road this weekend. They start in New Jersey on Friday and then finish in Pittsburgh on Saturday night. Backup goaltender Kevin Lankinen will start the game against the Devils, meaning that Fleury will most likely get the nod Saturday.
Kevin Lankinen gets the start tonight. Obviously, Marc-André Fleury will get the Pittsburgh game tomorrow.
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) October 15, 2021
Last season with the Vegas Golden Knights, Fleury played 36 games and won the Vezina and Jennings trophies. This will be the third time Fleury has returned to Pittsburgh since being claimed by the Golden Knights in the 2017 Expansion Draft and the sixth time the Penguins have played Fleury overall.
Longtime teammates of Fleury, Sidney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin will remain out of the lineup for Saturday’s game. Crosby has one career goal against his former plane ride partner, and Malkin has yet to score on Flower. Kris Letang, who will be in the lineup, also has yet to score on his teammate of eleven years.
Penguins Game on ESPN Sets New Record
The Pittsburgh Penguins 6-2 win over the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning marked the first NHL broadcast to ESPN since 2003. The game saw 984,000 viewers tune into the game and peaked at 1.1 million people.
An average of 884,000 viewers tuned in to either the Penguins/Lightning game or the Seattle Kraken’s inaugural game against the Golden Knights. The game was ESPN’s best-ever opening night. It even topped the former record set with the 2001 Penguins-Avalanche tilt.
Penguins forward Robert Lang scored the only goal for the Penguins during the 2001 game.
These ratings are up 54% over the 2019 NHL season opener on NBCsn and 19% over the 2020 NHL season opener. The Penguins and Lightning game set a new record as the most-watched NHL season opener in recorded TV cable history.
Around 1.1 million people saw the Penguins upset the defending Stanley Cup Champions and win the first game of the NHL season. ESPN will serve as the NHL’s new broadcasting partner and will wair national games for the NHL all season.
The second night of NHL programming on TNT did very well, too:
— TurnerSportsPR (@TurnerSportsPR) October 14, 2021
*Owen Krepps is an intern for Pittsburgh Hockey Now. Follow him on Twitter @okrepps85