Penguins v. Sharks, Game 49; Lines, Notes & How to Watch
The Pittsburgh Penguins (24-15-9) need wins and points. On paper, they have a decided advantage against their Saturday night opponent, the San Jose Sharks (14-25-11), who are sellers ahead of the March 3 NHL trade deadline and have lost 36 of their first 50 games. The Penguins host San Jose before beginning a 10-day break, which will not end until Feb. 7.
The puck drops just after 7 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins have been hockey hungry. They have played extra time in five of their last six games, including the shootout loss to the Washington Capitals on Thursday at Capital One Arena.
The Penguins scratched a pair of goals, including Bryan Rust’s sneaky shot past Washington goalie Darcy Kuemper with seven minutes remaining. The Penguins never led Thursday and could not get a third goal before Evgeni Kuznetsov, and Nick Backstrom scored shootout goals.
Penguins goalie Casey DeSmiths stopped 43 of 45 shots.
Since the NHL holiday break, the Penguins are 5-6-4, which means they have won only five of 15 games. The Buffalo Sabres have won five in a row and are just two points behind them for the final wild-card spot. Though a scheduling quirk bodes well for the Penguins, they trail Washington by one point with three games in hand.
While Washington may have the most tenuous playoff spot, the Penguins need wins, or the games in hand won’t matter. The Penguins NHL playoff streak is 16 years, but the Stanley Cup playoffs don’t have a legacy exemption.
San Jose is not a threat to make the Western Conference playoffs, and the NHL trade deadline will likely be the end of several tenures. Defenseman Erik Karlsson is enjoying new life as the unquestioned No. 1 defenseman and has entered the Norris Trophy conversation with 64 points (15-49-64) in 50 games.
It’s been a career resurgence for the 32-year-old defenseman.
San Jose’s second-leading scorer, Timo Meier, has become a sought-after commodity on the NHL trade market. Meier has 48 points, including 28 goals this season.
DeSmith will likely start for the Penguins. Kaapo Kahkonen is the likely starter for San Jose.
And a congratulations to Penguins backup goalie Dustin Tokarski, who raced home to Wilkes-Barre for the birth of his daughter. He is driving back to Pittsburgh Saturday, before presumably returning home for the break on Sunday.
We don’t know where the baby is registered, but gas cards for dad might be appreciated.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
Expected Sharks Lines, Per San Jose Hockey Now:
Penguins Power Play: 22%, 16th
Penguins Penalty Kill: 80.9%, 11th
Sharks power Play: 19.7%, 22nd
Sharks Penalty Kill: 83.2%, 4th
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:
The Penguins are 8-2-0 against Western Conference opponents at home this season.
Danton Heinen has points in back-to-back games (2-2-4).
Evgeni Malkin is three points away from his 14th career 50-point season. Only Alex Ovechkin (17), Sidney Crosby (16), Patrick Kane (15), and Anze Kopitar (15) have more seasons with 50-plus points among active players.
Sidney Crosby has a six-game point streak (2-8-10).
How to Watch:
TV: AT&T SportsNet; Radio: 105.9 The X
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