Penguins vs. Sharks, Game 53: Lines, Notes & How to Watch
SAN JOSE, Calif. — There might have been a time when the Pittsburgh Penguins would have looked past their game against San Jose tonight.
That time would have been before the Penguins’ hobbled into the NHL’s all-star break after absorbing a humbling 6-4 loss to the Sharks Jan. 28.
“Obviously, it was a game we weren’t happy with,” Bryan Rust said. “We didn’t like the result. We didn’t like how it happened. It something we’re going to have to have in the back of our minds going into the next one.”
In fairness, it must be noted that the Penguins aren’t the only playoff contender San Jose has taken down lately.
Sunday — just one day after Washington gave Boston a rare defeat on home ice — the Sharks beat the Capitals at Capital One Arena, 4-1.
That didn’t do much for San Jose in the standings, where it still is 16 points behind Calgary, which holds the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference, but did underscore the threat the Sharks will pose when the Penguins face them at 10:38 p.m. Eastern at SAP Center.
“They’re very good offensively,” Rust said. “They can score some goals. They’re a team that, despite where they are in the standings, they’re obviously a very good team, like every other team in this league. We can’t take them lightly.”
The Sharks actually have a middle-of-the-pack offense — they’re tied for 18th in the league, scoring an average of 3.06 goals per game — but they do, at least for now, employ the highest-scoring defenseman in the NHL.
Erik Karlsson is tied with Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk for fourth place in the league, with 18 goals and 55 assists in 54 games. Those two trail only Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl of Edmonton and Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov.
Although San Jose is expected to auction Karlsson off before the March 3 trade deadline, unfortunately for the Penguins, there’s no indication it will happen before the opening faceoff tonight.
That means he should have a chance to pad his already-impressive career stats — six goals and 28 assists in 32 games — against them.
Karlsson’s coach is David Quinn, who was Mike Sullivan’s college teammate at Boston University and remains a close friend.
“He’s a real good coach,” Sullivan said. “We’ve talked a lot of hockey, over the years. We spend time together in the offseason. We both like to play golf. … We speak, on a fairly consistent basis. I have so much respect for him as a person, but also as a hockey coach.
“I root for him in all but the games when we play them.”
Pittsburgh Penguins Expected Lines
San Jose Sharks Expected Lines, per Puckpedia.com
Penguins power play: 40 for 182, 22%, 17th
Penguins penalty-kill: 33 for 170, 83.7%, 12th
Sharks power play: 30 for 149, 20.1%, 21st
Sharks penalty-kill: 27 for 157, 82.8%, 4th
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
Sidney Crosby, who had a nine-game points streak snapped in the Penguins’ 6-0 loss at Los Angeles Saturday, has nine goals in nine career games against Sharks goalie James Reimer.
Evgeni Malkin needs one goal to reach 20 for the 14th time in his career.
The Penguins have not lost consecutive games in regulation since Jan. 13 (Winnipeg) and 14 (at Carolina).
Jake Guentzel has 11 goals and 11 assists in 20 games against Western Conference opponents this season.
Teddy Blueger does not have a goal in his past 26 games.
Erik Karlsson had his eighth three-point game of the season in the Sharks’ victory at Washington Sunday.
Logan Couture, who had five points in San Jose’s victory at PPG Paints Arena last month, is scheduled to play in his 900th career game tonight.
Timo Meier, another prominent member of the Sharks who is expected to be dealt by the trade deadline, has 10 goals in his past 16 games.
The Sharks will retire Patrick Marleau’s number Feb. 25. Marleau had a brief stint with the Penguins three seasons ago.
How to Watch
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 105.9 the X