The Pittsburgh Penguins took a step toward regaining their equilibrium with a 4-1 victory at Arizona Sunday.
They’ll have a pretty good opportunity to take another when Vancouver visits PPG Paints Arena tonight at 7:08.
The Canucks are 1-4 in their past five games and are eight points out of the final Western Conference playoff berth.
Speculation about major personnel moves has swirled around the franchise for months, and it seems inevitable that some of Vancouver’s top talents will be working elsewhere by the NHL trade deadline.
Then again, the Penguins — just two days removed from a 0-4-2 skid — are in no position to take anything for granted: They have not won consecutive games since stringing together a seven-game streak Dec. 1-15 and the Canucks spanked them, 5-1, Oct. 28 in Vancouver in the only previous meeting this season,
The Penguins, though, are 6-1-3 in their past 10 home games, so being back in familiar surroundings should work to their advantage.
So could their power play, if it can find a way to bust out of its 0-for-21 slump in the past four games.
If there’s a group capable of healing whatever is ailing an opposing power play, it’s Vancouver’s penalty-kill.
Picture trying to hold back a tidal wave with a tennis racquet, and you have some idea of what the Canucks must feel like when they’re down a man.
Their penalty-killing success rate of 68.1 percent is the worst in the NHL, and their shorthanded performance on the road (68.7 percent) is only nominally better than their one at home.
It has the makings of an epic showdown: The utterly resistible force against the easily moveable object.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
Expected Vancouver Canucks Lines, per PuckPedia.com
Penguins power play: 28 for 136, 20.6%, 19th
Canucks power play: 33 for 133, 24.8%, 9th
Penguins penalty-kill: 20 for 124, 83.9%, 3rd
Canucks penalty-kill: 36 for 113, 68.1%, 32nd
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
Jake Guentzel, who snapped a lengthy drought by scoring twice against the Coyotes, has 12 goals and seven assists in 10 career games against Vancouver. He has at least one point in every game he’s played versus the Canucks.
Sidney Crosby’s next point will be his 1,457th in the NHL, tying him with Teemu Selanne for 17th place on the league’s all-time list. Crosby assisted on both of Guentzel’s goals in Arizona, giving him back-to-back two-point games.
The Penguins are 6-1 against Western Conference opponents at PPG Paints Arena this season.
Kasperi Kapanen does not have a point in seven career games against the Canucks. His next assist will be his 100th in the NHL.
The Penguins have gone to shootouts with the Canucks four times, winning all of them.
East Palestine, Ohio native J.T. Miller has nine goals and eight assists in 24 career games against the Penguins.
Canucks center Bo Horvat has seven goals and six assists in his past seven games. He’s scored two or more goals nine times in 2022-23 and needs one for 200 in the NHL.
Vancouver’s Luke Schenn leads the NHL with 180 hits. Last month, he passed Brooks Orpik for the most career hits by a defenseman.
Canucks forward Elias Pettersson has scored all 17 of his goals at even-strength.
That victory over the Penguins Oct 28 is Vancouver’s only one against a Metropolitan Division opponent this season. The Canucks are 1-6-1 in those games.
How to Watch
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 105.9 the X