Before the Pittsburgh Penguins can enjoy a well deserved nine days off, they have one final hurdle to clear. The Penguins play their last game before the All-Star break against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center, Tuesday. The Penguins will conclude a stretch where they played 11 games in 20 days. They are 7-2-1 through the first 10 and currently have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference.
Additionally, there is more good, and bad news on the injury front as Justin Schultz will not play on Tuesday but is expected to play after the break. Center Nick Bjugstad is also skating, and Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said they expect the pair return, “in a timely fashion.”
Overall, the Penguins have points in four of its last five games against Philadelphia and start game action with points in four-consecutive visits to Philadelphia. Earlier this season, the Penguins took down Philadelphia in their only meeting of the season, 7-1, at PPG Paints Arena on Oct. 29. The Penguins scored four first-period goals. Sidney Crosby and Dominik Kahun had three-point efforts.
Tristan Jarry will start against Philadelphia after Matt Murray started the last two games. Philadelphia starts Brian Elliott in the net. Elliott is 11-5 record with a 3.03 goals-against.
The Penguins surrendered the first three goals but punched back with the next four in a 4-3 win against Boston, Sunday. The win was a microcosm of the Penguins first half of the season as they pulled together to chalk up their 31st win of the year. Boston, on three days rest, seemed determined to put the Penguins away in the first period as they tallied two goals in the opening two minutes. Boston added to their early start with another goal five minutes left in the period to take a commanding three-goal lead. Things seemed dire for the Penguins, but a late Dominik Simon score gave them a heartbeat into the first intermission.
The Penguins started the pivotal second period with a bang as they cut the lead to one just 33 seconds after the puck drop. Kris Letang’s shot went wide left, but Sidney Crosby pounced on the puck and distributed it Teddy Blueger, who finished it to make the score 3-2. The goal provided the adrenaline boost the Penguins sought, but they couldn’t add on.
Still trailing by one, the Penguins started the third with the mission to tie. The trend of “twitter scapegoats” scoring continued as Jack Johnson played hero with a blast from the point to knot the game up at three apiece. The goal was made possible by defensive pressure by Brandon Tanev, who sent the trailing pass to Johnson for the heat-seeking missile. The Penguins capped off their vindication with 7:15 remaining in the game as Bryan Rust found the game-winning goal. Evgeni Malkin forced a turnover along the boards and passed out to Bryan Rust, who fires the puck home from in close to earn the Penguins two points. Matt Murray started shaky in net but finished with 35 saves and the win. Boston’s Jaroslav Halak stopped 18 of 22 shots in the loss.
Philadelphia used a two-goal second period to beat LA 4-1, Saturday. Philadelphia received strong efforts from Travis Konecny, who tallied two goals, and James Van Riemsdyk, who added three points. Dustin Brown scored the only goal for LA in the loss but also had four hits. Jake Campbell drew the start for LA and made 22 saves while Brian Elliott stopped 34 of 35 shots.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has done some of his best work against the Philadelphia throughout his career. In 68 career games, Crosby has 42 goals, 60 assists, and 102 points. His 42 goals are his most against any one team, while his 1.50 points-per-game average is his third-highest average against any opponent. No active player has more points against Philadelphia than Crosby.
The duo of Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust have been on fire over the last 12 games, helping the Penguins go 9-2-1 since Dec. 28. In those 12 games, Malkin has put up 18 points (6G-12A), while Rust has registered 17 points (7G-10A), the second and third-most points in the NHL during that span, respectively.
Nick Bjugstad (Core Muscle, skating)
Brian Dumoulin (Ankle, IR)
Justin Schultz (Lower Body, skating)
Dominik Kahun (Concussion, Out)
Nolan Patrick (Migraine disorder)
Sam Morin (Knee, out for season)
Oskar Lindblom (Ewing’s sarcoma, out for season) Braun (groin, day-to-day)
Shayne Gostisbehere (Knee, three weeks)
Carter Hart (Lower abdominal strain, 2-3 weeks)
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||(36 for 150) 24% 5th NHL||(119 for 154) 77.3% 25th NHL|
|Buffalo Sabres||(30 for 142) 21.1% 13th NHL||(106 for 137) 77.4% 24th NHL|
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jared McCann||Jeff Carter||Frederick Gaudreau|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Teddy Blueger||Colton Sceviour|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Mark Friedman||Cody Ceci|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
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