Not yet, but we are getting close. Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby will not return to game action against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena, Sunday, per head coach Mike Sullivan.
This season, Crosby has 17 points (7g, 10a) in 17 games. He practiced on Saturday and took contact for the first time since having core muscle surgery. The Penguins begin a stretch of six games in 10 days and the Penguins may need to hold a morning skate to get Crosby more ice time with the team before he returns.
On Saturday in practice, Crosby skated with Dominik Simon and Jared McCann on the left-wing and Patric Hornqvist on the right-wing.
Despite Crosby’s notable progress, the Penguins have done more than just survive his lengthy early-season injury and continue to win despite bumps, bruises, and unorthodox travel. The Penguins are a 17-6-4 record in the 27 games that Crosby has missed. During that span, their 17 wins are tied for third in the NHL.
The Penguins have a five-game win streak and an eight-game point streak (7-0-1) against Arizona dating back to Feb. 29, 2016. Going back further, the Penguins have just one loss in regulation against Arizona in their last 11 meetings (9-1-1) dating back to March 21, 2015. After Sunday’s game, the Penguins awkward stretch of travel will conclude and they won’t leave the Eastern Time Zone for a game until Feb. 26, when they head to California to play the LA Kings.
Arizona has been shutout in two straight games.
In net, the Penguins will start Tristan Jarry who has done some of his best work against the Western Conference. Overall, the netminder has lost in regulation to a Western Conference opponent just once. He has a 10-1-1 record, a 1.91 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage against Western Conference teams.
Arizona is projected to start Adin Hill, who will be making just his third start on the year and sixth appearance.
Penguins Last Game
The Penguins rallied multiple times in a 4-3 OT win against Colorado, Friday. The win gave the Penguins a season series sweep against Colorado as both wins came in overtime, and now have points in nine of their last 13 games against them. Colorado, fueled by their home crowd, opened the scoring late in the first period to take a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. Nate MacKinnon set up at the left faceoff circle and unloaded a heat-seeking one-timer into the back of the net for a power-play goal.
The Penguins played the majority of the second with the one-goal deficit looming but eventually were rewarded for their pressure all period. John Marino and Dominik Kahun combined on a pass to Teddy Blueger, who tapped the puck home to tie the game at 13:29. Colorado, however, spoiled the period for the Penguins with a late goal to steal back their one-goal lead. Gabriel Landeskog dumped a puck into the zone that bounced awkwardly and sneaked through.
The Penguins added their fifth win of the year when trailing after two periods in the last two frames. The Penguins quickly tied and took a late lead in the third period on goals by the top line. Bryan Rust (18) and Evgeni Malkin (13) scored 14:29 apart to give their team a one-goal lead. After failing to score on a late power play, Colorado found the equalizer 31 seconds left in the period. Matt Calvert got a piece of Cale Makar’s blast to tie the game and force OT. Jared McCann played the hero in the 3v3 OT as his shot found the net through traffic for his 12th of the year.
Matt Murray earned the win in a surprising start. Murray made 28 saves including a high volume third period. Pavel Francouz stopped 26 of 30 shots but lost just his fourth game of the year. You can read more about the Penguins game in Colorado in Dan’s Recap and the PHN Extra Report Card.
Arizona was shutout for the second time in as many days in 3-0 loss to Carolina, Thursday. Warren Foegele, Martin Necas, and Lucas Wallmark accounted for the scoring in the game by scoring their respective tenth goals of the year. Petr Mrazek earned his third shutout of the year with a 32 saves performance. Antti Raanta started and stopped 25 of 28 before leaving with an injury. Adin Hill stopped the only shot he faced in relief.
A career year continued for Bryan Rust as he recorded two points (1G-1A) against Colorado in Friday’s Penguins game. Rust tied his career-high with 18 goals. Rust’s next point will tie his career-high of 38, which he set in 2017-18. He played 69 games, 39 more than he has played this season. Additionally, Rust has 22 points in 15 games against Western Conference opponents.
Defenseman Kris Letang is one assist shy of becoming the first defenseman in franchise history to record 400 career assists. Letang will be just the sixth player in Penguins’ history to record 400 or more assists. He will join Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby, Jaromir Jagr, Evgeni Malkin, and Ron Francis.
Sidney Crosby (Core Muscle, practicing)
Nick Bjugstad (Core Muscle, skating)
Brian Dumoulin (Ankle, IR)
Justin Schultz (Lower Body, skating)
Niklas Hjalmarsson (Lower Body, IR)
Darcy Kuemper (Lower Body)
Barrett Hayton (Upper Body)
|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|
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