Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (4-1-1, nine points, 1st place Metropolitan Division) @ Calgary Flames (4-1-0, eight points, 2nd place Pacific Division)
When: 9:00 p.m. Eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh (Sportsnet 360 up in Canada)
Opponent Track: In a season start during which the Flames get to play a comfortable nine out of their first ten games at home, Calgary beat the Avalanche, Oilers and Golden Knights in regulation— then stumbled into a 6-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, when starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom was pulled after allowing three goals in seven minutes. On Saturday, the Flames suffered an early 2-0 deficit to the Carolina Hurricanes, but ended up completing a comeback victory with less than 30 seconds left in overtime.
Pens Path Ahead: The Penguins will get two days off before wrapping up the Western swing with another set of late-night back-to-back contests against the Canucks on Friday and the Kraken on Saturday.
Season Series: We’ll see this matchup again in about a month, when the Flames arrive in Pittsburgh on November 23. Last season, the Penguins lost twice to Calgary in a shutout and shootout.
Getting to know the Flames
SB Nation counterpart: Matchsticks and Gasoline
Jonathan Huberdeau - Elias Lindholm - Tyler Toffoli
Andrew Mangiapane - Nazem Kadri - Dillon Dubé
Blake Coleman - Mikael Backlund - Trevor Lewis
Milan Lucic - Kevin Rooney - Brett Ritchie
Noah Hanifin / Rasmus Andersson
MacKenzie Weegar / Christopher Tanev
Nikita Zadorov / Michael Stone
Goalies: Jacob Markstrom or Daniel Vladar
Scratches: Connor Mackey, Adam Ruzicka
IR: Oliver Kylington
- Flames starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who finished second only to Igor Shesterkin in Vezina Trophy voting last season after leading the NHL with nine shutouts, has let in the very first shot of his previous two starts. Two days after he was pulled against the Sabres on Thursday, the Hurricanes got two pucks past him on their first eight shots. But Markstrom rallied, buckled down, and stopped 17 straight shots to backstop the Flames to an overtime win on Saturday.
- Ex-Panther Jonathan Huberdeau has been relatively quiet with his new team so far, mostly contributing assists on the power play. In fact, Calgary’s entire top line is looking for even strength production. But Lindholm topped 40 goals last year, Huberdeau had 30, and Toffoli 20— surely it’s only a matter of time before they find the chemistry to break through.
- Nazem Kadri, who leads Flames forwards with six points (two goals, four assists) is as good at drawing penalties as ever— and skilled at converting on them, too. When the Flames faced a two-goal deficit to the Hurricanes on Saturday, Kadri drew a penalty and scored on the resulting power play to begin the Flames’ comeback.
- The Flames are a regular top-ten pick to win the Stanley Cup this year. With them heading into this game on two full days of rest, while the Penguins are still catching their breath from chasing after Connor McDavid and the Oilers last night, this is a schedule loss if we’ve ever seen one.
And now for the Pens...
Potential Game Lines
Danton Heinen - Sidney Crosby - Rickard Rakell
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Brock McGinn - Jeff Carter - Kasperi Kapanen
Drake Cagguila - Ryan Poehling - Josh Archibald
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / Jeff Petry
P.O. Joseph / Jan Rutta
Goalies: Casey DeSmith (Tristan Jarry started last night)
Scratches: Jake Guentzel (upper body injury), Chad Ruhwedel, Sam Poulin
IR: Teddy Blueger
- We saw these lines undergo changes during Monday’s third period, when Heinen slid back down to his usual place on the third line, Kapanen jumped up to the second and Rust returned to Crosby’s side on the first. Will we see these versions of the lines again today? It really all depends on....
- Jake Guentzel’s status as a game-time decision. He’s traveling with the team, so he may be truly day-to-day, but he wore a no-contact jersey during an optional skate Monday morning and sat out against the Oilers. If he returns, the lines will likely shift back to what they looked like at the beginning of the season. Without him, maybe we’ll see some more first-line Rust and second-line Kapanen if Sullivan decides he’s seen enough of Heinen with Crosby.
- The Penguins tried adding Jeff Petry to the Penguins’ first power play unit Monday. We’ll see if they stick with this three forwards / two defensemen arrangement on Tuesday, or if they mix it up after PP1 fell flat during the loss to the Oilers.
- Casey DeSmith will seek his first win of the season tonight while Tristan Jarry takes a rest. Last Monday, DeSmith looked sharp against the Canadiens as he helped the lackluster Penguins earn a point in a 3-2 overtime loss. Head coach Mike Sullivan on DeSmith’s last performance, as per NHL.com: “He made a lot of timely saves. He gave us a chance to win.”