The Penguins should receive a boost against the New York Islanders, Thursday. Forward Patric Hornqvist returns from injury just in time as the usually punchless powerplay has shown life. Hornqvist returns from a six-game absence as the Penguins conclude their home and home series with New York. Both teams are 1-0-1 in the series with each team earning an overtime win on the road. New York can set a new franchise record with points in 16 straight games while the Penguins have points in eight of their last 10 games. Thursday’s game also marks the first of back to back for the Penguins as well. So far, they are 4-4-0 in back to backs (2-2-0 the first night; 2-2-0 the second night).
The Penguins turn to Matt Murray for their goaltending needs, Thursday. Murray seeks his tenth win of the year and holds a 3-3-2 record against them. New York starts Thomas Greiss. Despite being part of a goalie platoon, Greiss has started the season with a 1.98 goals against.
However, the injury bug also took away from the Penguins, just to balance the ledger. Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan announced defenseman Justin Schultz will be out longer-term with a lower body injury, and center Nick Bjugstad had surgery for a core muscle injury.
The Penguins battled New York, but blew a two-goal lead twice in a 5-4 OT loss, Tuesday. Despite the inability to secure the second point in OT, the Penguins dominated long stretches of the game but fizzled out right before the finish line. The Penguins kicked off the scoring with a pair of goals in the first period to put New York on the ropes. Bryan Rust ripped a power-play shot while Brandon Tanev tipped a John Marino shot home to give their team a decisive lead into the first intermission.
The good feelings proved shortlived as the Barry Trotz led New York squad only needed five and a half minutes to erase their deficit. Anthony Beauvillier (7) teed up a heavy wrist shot that found post then net to spark his team’s comeback. The goal ignited a furious exchange of chances but the Penguins could not regain their two-goal lead. New York used the center drive to tie the game up when Brock Nelson netted a redirection. Nelson drifted into the slot and tipped Nick Leddy’s heavy one-timer into the net. The Penguins did respond late in the period however when Brandon Tanev tallied his second goal of the game.
Equipped with the lead and momentum, the Penguins quickly stretched their lead back to two. Jake Guentzel (10) received an Alex Galchenyuk set up on the powerplay and it appeared the Penguins were back in the driver seat. New York displayed resilence with less than six minutes left in the game to tie. Josh Bailey cut the lead to 4-3 with a wrist shot from above the crease while Ryan Pulock’s slapper tied it 4-4 at 18:28 with the extra attacker. In OT the Penguins had chances but fell victim to another late defensive lapse. Brock Nelson spotted his own rebound and tapped it home, thus extending New York’s point streak to 15 games.
Matt Murray received the loss while allowing five goals, but played better than measurable stats indicate. Murray made some clutch saves early in the third to keep the Penguins two-goal lead before it was ultimately surrendered. Seymon Varlamov weathered a 31 shot storm to earn his seventh win of the year. You can read more about the peeved Penguins’ performance at PPG Paints in Dan’s Recap.
Through the first quarter of the NHL season, the Penguins have established a trend of firing shots on net early and often. The Penguins have outshot its opponents in 15 of 21 games so far this season. They are averaging 34.8 shots per game, second-most in the NHL, and have also are allowing 28.9 shots against per game – the fifth-fewest total in the league.
John Marino has found his name on the scoresheet frequently as of late, as he’s picked up points in five of his last seven games. Prior to Kris Letang’s injury, Marino was averaging 17:17 minutes of time-on-ice per game and since November 7, the first game Letang missed, Marino has seen his ice time jump to 21:37 minutes per game.
With Justin Schultz’s mysterious exit from practice yesterday, the Penguins have recalled Zach Trotman from WBS. Trotman has 13 points (3g, 10a) in 83 career NHL games between the Penguins and the Boston Bruins.
Patric Hornqvist (Lower-body, Practicing)
Kris Letang (Lower-Body, Week to Week)
Sidney Crosby (Core Muscle, 6+ Weeks)
Nick Bjugstad (Core Muscle, 6+ weeks)
Justin Schultz (Longer-Term)
New York Islanders
Thomas Kuhnhackl (Leg, IR)
Matt Martin (Leg, IR)
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||23.7%, 4th NHL||77.4%, 27th NHL|
|New York Islanders||18.8%, 21st NHL||83.7%, 6th NHL|
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jared McCann||Jeff Carter||Freddy Gaudreau|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Teddy Blueger||Brandon Tanev|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Mike Matheson||Cody Ceci|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|