Who: Dallas Stars (1-2-0, 2 points) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (2-0-1, 5 points)
When: 7:00 p.m. eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet locally in Pittsburgh, Bally Sports Southwest is the away team broadcast, also available streaming on ESPN+
Opponent Track: This is a under-the-radar tough game for Dallas; it’s their fourth game in six days (and third game in four days), all of which have been on the road so far to open the season. It’s also the final game of their current road trip. The Stars started the season off right, beating NYR 3-2 (OT) on Thursday but then suffered two setbacks over the weekend, losing 3-1 in Boston and then 3-2 in Ottawa.
Pens path ahead: After tonight, it’s more rest as the Pens are inactive until Saturday, where they will host Toronto for an always fun Hockey Night in Canada prime time spot. Then it’s more rest as the team will prep for Tampa, Calgary and New Jersey to come to town from Oct 26-30, as Pittsburgh’s long, long string of home games continues.
Season Series: The Pens play their game in Dallas this season on Saturday January 8th.
Random fact: Tonight will be the first PIT/DAL game in 725 days (Oct 26, 2019, a 3-0 Pens win).
SBN Team Counterpart: Check out Defending Big D for the latest news to know about the Stars.
—A very modest offensive start with only six total goals in the first three games so far for Dallas. No player has scored more than one goal so far, with several notable players like Jamie Benn, Alex Radulov and Tyler Seguin all without a goal.
—Goaltending was thought to be a question mark for the Stars, but so far that has been their stronger position in the very early stages of the season. Also, here’s an uncomfortable thought: if Dallas falls out of the playoffs and also gets Ben Bishop back, they will have too many goalies. If the Pens flounder in net (which, they haven’t so far, but this is just a hypothetical), could....could Braden Holtby be the Pens’ veteran goalie in-season target? He’s on an expiring contract and while he hasn’t been good in recent years, he’s got the playoff history.
I wouldn’t by a Holtby Pens jersey just yet or anything, but it’s not a 0.0% chance right now that the on and off ice fits for Pittsburgh and Dallas could possibly develop...
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Jacob Peterson - Roope Hintz - Joe Pavelski
Michael Raffl - Radek Faksa - Denis Gurianov
Joel Kiviranta - Luke Glendening - Tanner Kero
Esa Lindell / Miro Heiskanen
Ryan Suter / Andrej Sekera
Joel Hanley / Jain Hakanpaa
Goalies: Braden Holtby / Anton Khudobin
Scratches: Jason Robertson, John Klingberg
IR: Blake Comeau, Ben Bishop (LTIR)
—We’ll leave out John Klingberg, who might be able to answer the bell as he comes back from injury suffered in the first game. Klingberg was said to be day-to-day but there was no real update from the Stars. Klingberg’s transition play has been noticeably missed for the Stars, who perhaps not totally coincidentally have gone 0-2-0 in the games he hasn’t played this year..
Seguin back to 100%
NHL players can do incredible damage to themselves when in range for a Stanley Cup. Tyler Seguin sacrificed personal health (and practically his entire 2020-21 season, where he only played three games) for the 2020 bubble NHL playoff where Dallas made the SC Final. Which probably isn’t dis-similar from what happened to Shea Weber this past year. And it’s always heart-rendering in those cases where the sacrifice and lengthy price to pay doesn’t even come after winning. Details of Seguin’s rehab have come to light, and it paints an eye-opening journey back of a guy who was wheelchair bound at one point not too long ago.
Tyler Seguin got to Matt Nichol’s gym in Toronto nearly nine months ago ravaged from surgery and nerve damage in his right leg. He was weak, barely able to move, a shell of what the center had been for so long with the Dallas Stars.
“I lost my whole quad,” Seguin said, pausing briefly for effect. “I had to start from ground zero. We sat down, Matt Nichol and I, we looked at it and it was just so tiny compared to the other side. We started from scratch and went from there.”
Nichol, Seguin’s longtime personal trainer, said he had never seen anything like what Seguin’s body was enduring following the surgery.
“It was pretty shocking,” Nichol said. “We laugh about it now, but the whole time talking as he was coming up he was saying it’s not great, pretty bad. Then when I saw it, I thought, holy [smoke], you really undersold the situation.”
Seguin is back now, quad muscle and all.
And now for the Pens..
Monday Practice Lines
Jake Guentzel - Jeff Carter - Danton Heinen
Jason Zucker - Evan Rodrigues - Kasperi Kapanen
Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Brock McGinn
Drew O’Connor- Brian Boyle - Dominik Simon
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / John Marino
Mark Friedman or Mike Matheson / Chad Ruhwedel
Starting goalie: Tristan Jarry
Scratches: Sam Lafferty (healthy),
IR: Evgeni Malkin (knee), Bryan Rust (week-to-week injury), Sidney Crosby (wrist)
—Tough luck for Rust, who will be out for the immediate future and create another test of depth for the Pens.
—Crosby has been ruled out for tonight’s game, and considering his initial six week timeline from surgery on Sept. 8th hasn’t quite hit, that makes sense. There’s no reason to cut corners or rush Crosby back ahead of schedule, even if he may look about ready to go. In the “food for thought” folder - tomorrow marks six weeks since the surgery. The Pens are off until Saturday. Could next game be the return of No 87?
—One other player who could be back though is Matheson. Sullivan reported Matheson felt “really strong” after practice yesterday, but the team was going to see how his situation went overnight last night into today before making a decision on if he will play. Matheson has been battling a lingering and pesky minor lower-body injury, but it seems over the weekend he made some strides towards recovering.
Everyone is pitching in
18 skaters dress for every game, and through three games the Pens have goals from 11 different players. That’s a great distribution of production thus far, which is leading the league early in the season. From the team PR:
Pittsburgh has started the season off red hot, picking up points in the team’s first three games (2-0-1) for the first time since the 2016-17 season (2-0-1). An emerging theme through three games is the Penguins ability to fill the net, as they’ve scored four-plus goals in all three games, and lead the NHL with 15 goals for.
Pittsburgh’s 15 goals for through the first three games of the year is the most since the 1995-96 season (15 GF). The only three seasons in franchise history where the team scored more goals is 1990-91 (17), 1988-89 (19), and 1975-76 (19).
A huge contributing factor to the Penguins early success is depth scoring from all four lines. Pittsburgh has an NHL-best 11 unique goal scorers (note: as of Monday morning):
Team Unique Goal Scorers
Tampa Bay 7