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PHN Daily: Penguins at Their Worst, Capitals Climbing



Washington Capitals goal New York Rangers Madison Square Garden

The NHL started back up Tuesday evening after its three-day holiday break, although someone apparently forgot to let the Pittsburgh Penguins know. Washington certainly was aware of it, and has a new place in the Metropolitan Division standings today to show for it. Boston suffered a rare defeat, but only after taking the Senators to a shootout in Ottawa. Philadelphia got some good news, which has been even more rare there than Flyers victories in 2022-23. And Detroit, which will visit PPG Paints Arena this evening, routinely struggles in its first game after Christmas.

With the NHL’s roster freeze over, GMs again will be free to look for ways to upgrade their rosters, so don’t be surprised if there’s a surge in trade speculation in coming days.

And with above-freezing temperatures predicted to arrive in Western Pennsylvania today, trade talks won’t be the only thing that’s heating up. Finally.

Pittsburgh Penguins/Steelers, Pirates

The Pittsburgh Penguins played what Mike Sullivan said “might have been our worst game of the year” in a 5-1 loss on Long Island. It’s possible that was a charitable assessment.

Sidney Crosby said the Penguins “never really found our game” during the last two periods of that loss to the Islanders. They didn’t have much of one for most of the first 20 minutes, either.

Even if you graded this one on a curve, precious few guys would have been worthy of a passing grade. Penguins Report Card.

After the Penguins’ game-day skate, Sullivan suggested he will consider shaking up his bottom-six forwards to try to increase the production of his third line.

Steelers Now

Mike Tomlin “saw sure eyes” from members of his offense before the Steelers’ game-winning drive Saturday night against Vegas.

Hundreds of fans paid their final respects to Franco Harris during an emotional public viewing at Acrisure Stadium.

The Steelers made a couple of personnel moves ahead of their showdown with the Ravens in Baltimore Sunday night.

Tomlin is glad that the Ravens game was flexed into prime time, if only because that means its outcome still matters.

Less than a week after Harris died, the Steelers lost a member of the Rooney family.

Pittsburgh Baseball Now

Adding another corner outfielder would be a good move by the Pirates. John Perrotto looks at some of the best candidates still on the market.

The Pirates and 42-year-old reliever Rich Hill agree to a one-year, $8 million contract.

National Hockey Now

New York Islanders: Not surprisingly, Islanders center Mathew Barzal’s reaction to his team’s performance against the Penguins was the complete opposite of Mike Sullivan’s.

Colorado: The Avalanche got a 6-3 haircut from Arizona at Mullett Arena in their first game back from the break.

Washington: Unlike the Penguins, the Capitals were able to maintain their momentum through the holiday break and defeat the New York Rangers, 4-0, at Madison Square Garden. That allowed Washington to hurdle the Penguins and Rangers and move into third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Calgary: The Flames self-immolated in a 2-1 loss to Edmonton with an undisciplined penalty in the third period.

Detroit: You know how the Penguins struggled against the Islanders Tuesday? Well, their opponent this evening at PPG Paints Arena has a history of doing just that in its first game back from the break.

Philly: Good news has been hard to come by on the far side of the Commonwealth this season, but the Flyers got a little Tuesday, with an encouraging update on the health of No. 1 goalie Carter Hart.

San Jose: The Sharks were able to maintain their pre-break momentum, but in their case, that’s not a good thing.

Montreal: How this for looking ahead? Evaluating the odds of the Canadiens ending up with the No. 1 choice in the 2023 NHL Draft.

Boston: It took overtime and an outstanding performance by Ottawa goalie Cam Talbot, but the Bruins suffered a rare defeat, 3-2, at Canadian Tire Center.

Florida: A disappointing season in south Florida took a tick upward Tuesday, as two key injured players were able to participate in practice.

Vegas: The Golden Knights suffered a double setback in Los Angeles, dropping a 4-2 decision to the Kings and losing defenseman Alec Martinez to an injury after he blocked a shot.