NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tristan Jarry will make his third start in the past four games when the Pittsburgh Penguins face Nashville tonight at 8:08 Eastern at Bridgestone Arena.
Whether he’ll have first-line right winger Bryan Rust playing in front of him then remains to be seen.
Rust has missed the past three games because of an unspecified lower-body injury, and coach Mike Sullivan said today it will be a “game-time decision” whether Rust will be used against the Predators.
These guys are killing it
The Penguins’ penalty-kill has allowed just two goals — one of them an empty-netter in Buffalo last Friday — in the past 10 games and has risen to eighth place in the NHL rankings, with a success rate of 85.7 percent.
And while that’s pretty good, Sullivan believes the unit is capable of being even better.
“It’s just a lot of the little things,” he said. “I don’t think any particular aspect of anyone’s game … you don’t ever arrive at a particular spot. I think the game constantly evolves and different aspects of everyone’s team game continues to evolve. So there’s always areas where we can improve and get better.
“A lot of it comes down to details: It’s winning faceoffs. It’s working collectively to get 200-foot clears. It’s making the entries difficult. That’s a collective effort, also. Everybody doing their job. It’s putting our opponents’ power plays under pressure. Our penalty-kill is at its best when it’s pressuring our opponents and not giving them all kinds of time and space to try to pick us apart.”
Although Nashville was a popular choice to finish near the bottom of the Western Conference this season, the Predators enter the game this evening with a five-game winning streak and the same record (10-10) as the Penguins, who see themselves as viable Stanley Cup contenders.
Sullivan, for what it’s worth, said he is not surprised that the Predators have been so competitive.
“I think they have good players, first and foremost,” he said. “I think they’re well-coached. There’s a lot of parity in this league. … They’ve got a strong team game. One of the strengths of their game is their forecheck. The put a lot of pucks in deep. They will challenge us tonight to beat their pressure, and we’re going to have to get out of our end zone.
“They have some defensemen who are difference-makers. (Roman) Josi is one of those, an offensively gifted defenseman who is a real impact player. Ryan McDonagh has been as good a two-way defenseman as there is in the league for a decade-plus. They have solid goaltending. So it doesn’t surprise me that they’re where they’re at.”
Eleven players took part in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ optional game-day skate today.
They were forwards Evgeni Malkin, Reilly Smith, Alex Nylander, Vinnie Hinostroza, Radim Zohorna and Jansen Harkins, defensemen Ryan Shea, Chad Ruhwedel and P.O Joseph and goalies Alex Nedeljkovic and Jarry.