When: 7:00 p.m. eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in the Pittsburgh viewing area, NBCSN Nationally in America, Sportsnet and TVAS in Canada
Opponent Track: The Leafs are 3-2-1 in their last six, trading wins and losses the whole way. They lost 5-2 @Buffalo on Sunday in their last game out.
Item to know: The Pens are 5-0-1 in their last six home games.
Pens path ahead: A lil back-to-back action with these two teams meeting up in Toronto on Thursday. The Pens then return to Pittsburgh for a Saturday afternoon game with Buffalo before hitting the road on a quick turnaround to meet up with the Caps in Washington next Sunday afternoon.
Season Series: The Pens won the first PIT/TOR game of the season by a commanding 6-1 back on November 16th in Pittsburgh. The two games this week will be the last two of the regular season.
Recent History: The Pens have done well against TOR going 7-2-1 overall in the last 10 home matchups.
SBN Team Counterpart: Our friends at Pension Plan Puppets will have you covered from the Leafs’ perspective
Tale of the tape
—Lots of fireworks with Toronto. They’re capable of scoring as much as anyone in the league, but have been as lax defensively and received poor overall goaltending as well. That all applies at even strength, their power play is great, their penalty kill stinks, they shoot a lot but give up a ton against to ask a lot of their goalies. Just a lot going on.
—Welcome back to the top-10 of save percentage, Penguins’ goalies! The Murray-Jarry every game rotation since the All-Star break has worked wonders on the ice. Since January 1, Murray has a .929 ES save% in eight games. Jarry isn’t far behind with a .924 ES save% in 10 games. Solid, consistent well above-average netminding like that is a big reason the Pens are 12-4-2 in the calendar year of 2020.
Player Stats at a Glance
—The problems aren’t at the top of the lineup. Matthews currently leads the NHL in goals with 42. Marner has a tremendous points/game ratio. Tavares is about at a point per game. Nylander has bounced back from his contract negotiation shortened season last year to a good season production-wise.
—But after that, not much going on. They probably expected more out of the Kerfoot/Johnsson level of players and Rielly’s goals have dropped from 20 last season to just three so far this year. And injuries have struck and created lots of lineup issues.
—Feels like new goalies in new places can often get off on a hot start, and that applies for Jack Campbell so far. Small sample but he’s been everything Toronto could have asked for so far since coming over in a trade earlier this month.
Possible Lines (based on Sunday game)
Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
William Nylander - John Tavares - Alex Kerfoot
Kyle Clifford - Pierre Engvall - Kasperi Kapanen
Mason Marchment - Jason Spezza - Egor Korshkov
Jake Muzzin / Justin Holl
Travis Dermott / Tyson Barrie
Rasmus Sandin / Timothy Liljegren
Expected starting goalie: ?
Expected Scratches: Dmytro Timashov, Frederick Gauthier, Martin Marincin
Injured Reserve: Andreas Johnsson, Morgan Rielly. Cody Ceci, Ilya Mikheyev
—Some new faces at the bottom of the lineup. Marchment, 24, is an undrafted 6’4, 220 pound player who has toiled for parts of the last five seasons with the AHL Marlies. He has 13G+5A in 24 games in the AHL this season, and only four career NHL games all this season.
—Korshkov, 23, was a high second round pick from 2016. He made his NHL debut on Sunday and scored a goal. Korshkov has 21 points (14G+7A) in 35 games with AHL Toronto this year, his first full season in North America.
—The bottom pair has just 27 combined games of NHL experience, and are only a combined 39 years old between Sandin (19) and Liljegren (20). Certainly some talent and skill as both have bright futures but obviously are very new to this top level of play. They’re needed though due to the injuries to Rielly and Ceci.
—Didn’t see news of a goalie for this one. Jack Campbell won on Saturday, only giving up two goals to Buffalo and Frederik Andersen got touched up for five goals in the loss to Buffalo on Sunday. So classic backup has the hotter hand but we’ll see if they go back for the starter.
And now for the Pens..
Potential Lines (based on Sunday game)
Jason Zucker - Sidney Crosby - Dominik Simon
Jared McCann - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Brandon Tanev
Sam Lafferty - Andrew Agozzino - Patric Hornqvist
Jack Johnson/ Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / Justin Schultz
Juuso Riikola / Chad Ruhwedel
Possible starting goalie: Tristan Jarry
Expected scratches: Dominik Kahun (concussion), Anthony Angello (healthy), John Marino (cheek surgery)
Injured Reserve: Nick Bjugstad (core muscle surgery), Brian Dumoulin (ankle surgery), Jake Guentzel (shoulder)
—If the goalie rotation holds, it’ll be Tristan Jarry in the net for this one and Matt Murray going on Thursday.
Raking the Leafs
Did you know that Evgeni Malkin burns Toronto more than any other team? I didn’t realize that until reading this Pens PR provided note:
Evgeni Malkin has made a habit of turning in big performances against the Toronto Maple Leafs over the course of his career. In 38 games, Malkin has 22 goals, 42 assists and 64 points. He has been held scoreless against Toronto only six times in his career, and has recorded three or more points 10 times. In the 18 games that he’s recorded multiple points versus the Maple Leafs, the Penguins are 13-4-1.
Malkin’s 1.68 points-per-game average is his highest against any team:
Team GP G A PTS PTS/GM
Toronto 38 22 42 64 1.68
Detroit 21 11 20 31 1.48
Winnipeg 35 20 31 51 1.46
Washington 45 19 45 64 1.42
Vegas 5 2 5 7 1.40
Malkin is quickly closing in on Mario Lemieux’s franchise record for points against the Toronto Maple Leafs. In 33 career games, Lemeiux recorded 71 points (31G-40A).
Sidney Crosby, if you were wondering, has 59 career points (27G+32A) in 43 total matchups against Toronto.