It seemed only fitting that 2019 claimed just one more Pittsburgh athlete before it came to close. The Penguins will be without sniping winger and perhaps team MVP Jake Guentzel for the rest of the season after he sustained a scary injury on Monday night and underwent successful shoulder surgery on Tuesday morning. Guentzel’s season may be done, but the Penguins (24-11-4) game will begin the new year against the worst team in the Western Conference, the San Jose Sharks (17-21-3) at PPG Paints Arena, Thursday.
Its the first game of 2020 and Mike Sullivan has tweaked his lineup to accommodate for absences. How patient will Sullivan be with his new lines?
“I don’t know if I can give you an answer because a lot of that is a gut feel depending on how the game is going,” Sullivan responded to PHN. “What I can say is that our coaching staff believes in trying to win the game right in front of us.”
The Penguins remain a tough opponent at home with points in 14 of their last 15 home games and they have a 16-4-2 record at PPG Paints Arena. The team’s 16 wins at home are most in the NHL. Thursday’s game is also 1980s Theme Night. The night features retro ‘80s arcade games, a live ‘80s cover band, specialty food items, but no Hi-C Ecto Coolers….sorry.
Newly anointed NHL’s “Second Star” of December Tristan Jarry starts for the Penguins. Jarry is currently riding a six-game winning streak and currently one win shy of tying his career-high of 14, set in 2017-18. San Jose starts Aaron Dell for their game in Pittsburgh. Dell has just one win in his last eight appearances due to a 2.99 GAA and .902 save percentage.
The Penguins beat the Ottawa Senators 5-2, Monday to chalk up a win in their last game of a memorable decade. Despite the win, the game remains marred by a third injury to Jake Guentzel and the announcement he will miss the rest of the season. The Penguins found the back of the net first as they staked themselves out to 2-0 lead early in the first period. For the third straight game, the Penguins scored before all their fans found seats. Evgeni Malkin (10), on a 2-on-1, shot low just 27 seconds after initial puck drop. Malkin’s effort received support later in the period by a great shift by the Dominik Simon, who scored his fourth of the year.
In the second, Ottawa and the Penguins exchanged goals, but the two-goal lead remained for the home team. Evgeni Malkin scored his second of the game between two Nick Paul (5,6) markers. Malkin sets up inside the circle and ripped Bryan Rust’s pass into the net short after Paul got his team on the board. The Penguins stretched their lead to three with 3:09 remaining in the period when Patric Hornqvist found twine. Hornqvist fired a shot from a tough angle and tallied his first since returning from the IR. Jake Guentzel scored the only goal for either team in the third to account for all the scoring. The goal was Guentzel’s 200th career point.
Tristan Jarry started in net for the Penguins and submitted another great start. Despite being frequently tested in the second period, Jarry finished with 24 saves in the win. Marcus Hogberg stopped 28 of 33 shots in the loss for Ottawa. You can read more about the last Penguins game in 2019 in Dan’s Recap and the PHN Extra Report Card.
San Jose closed out the decade with a loss against Detroit 2-0, Tuesday. Tyler Bertuzzi (15) and Filip Hronek (8) scored the only goals of the game despite San Jose outshooting Detroit 34-23. Jonathan Bernier stopped all 34 shots he faced for his first shutout of the year. Martin Jones made 21 saves in the loss for San Jose.
Patric Hornqvist appeared in his 740th career game on Monday against Ottawa, passing Kim Johnsson for the most games played by a last overall draft pick in NHL history.
Evgeni Malkin continues to tear it up as he has points in 21 of his 26 games played (11G-27A-38 PTS) this season, and has recorded points in each of his last nine games (5G-11A). Because Malkin missed two games from December 12-14, his official point streak stands at six games (3G-8A), which is tied for the fifth-longest active point streak in the NHL. His six-game assist streak (8 total) is the second-longest active assist streak in the NHL.
Scouts… Man, Carolina has just keeps showing up in force and Detroit sent the Director of Pro Scouting:
NYR (Pro scout + local scout)
Carolina (2x pro scouts, AGAIN)
Detroit (Mark Howe, Dir. of Pro Scouting)
— Dan Kingerski (@TheDanKingerski) January 2, 2020
Sidney Crosby (Core Muscle, skating)
Nick Bjugstad (Core Muscle, skating)
Brian Dumoulin (Ankle, IR)
Justin Schultz (Lower Body, Longer term)
San Jose Sharks
Dalton Prout (Upper body, IR)
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||20.3% (16th NHL)||82.4% (7th NHL)|
|New Jersey Devils||17.7% (22nd NHL)||82.0% (10th NHL)|
Expected Penguins Lines
|Jason Zucker||Sidney Crosby||Conor Sheary|
|Patrick Marleau||Evgeni Malkin||Bryan Rust|
|Evan Rodrigues||Jared McCann||Patric Hornqvist|
|Brandon Tanev||Teddy Blueger||Sam Lafferty|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Jack Johnson||Justin Schultz|
Make sure you create your own PHN App. It’s free and easy.