Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (32-14-8, 72 points, 2nd place Metropolitan Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (27-24-1, 55 points, 5th place Metropolitan Division)
When: 6:00 p.m. Eastern
How to Watch: AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh (ATTSN-PT) locally in the Western PA viewing area, Bally Sports Ohio (BSOH), ESPN+
Opponent Track: The Blue Jackets recently ended a four-game winning streak with a 4-0 shutout by the Hurricanes in Carolina. Sure, the winning streak involved victories over the Blackhawks and Sabres, but it also involved a 4-3 overtime victory over the Maple Leafs and a decisive 6-3 blowout victory over the Panthers in Florida— there’s no question Columbus can beat good teams.
Pens Path Ahead: This kicks off three straight division opponents on the road for the Penguins, who open another set of back-to-back contests against the Lightning and Hurricanes on March 3 and 4.
Hidden Stat: In away games, the Penguins are 12-2-0 when scoring first this season.
Trivia Question: As of Sunday, February 27, Kris Letang trails just one NHL defenseman (by one helper) for the NHL lead in assists. Who is this defenseman (who belongs to a division rival?)
Season Series: This is the second of four meetings for the Blue Jackets and Penguins this season; during the series opener at Nationwide Arena on January 21, the Penguins claimed a 5-2 win thanks to a third-period game-winner from Mike Matheson.
SBN Counterpart Blog: Hear the fire at The Cannon.
Blues Jackets shake off a Hurricanes shutout
No matter how good they are, a 4-0 loss to a division rival rankles. From Blue Jackets head coach Brad Larsen at NHL.com:
This game (at Carolina) is done. I’m not looking at this tape. Coaches aren’t allowed to look at the tape. I’m sure the players will be done with it. They’re the first ones to move by it. It is what it is, and now we have to get ready for Sunday.”
Energy shouldn’t be an issue tonight in the return to Nationwide Arena, as the Blue Jackets will play one of their traditional rivals in Pittsburgh. Games against the Penguins tend to be full of bite, and the Jackets spent Saturday off with an eye on refilling the tanks to be ready for this one.
The goal is to get back to the team’s recent game, which has included standout performances from the team’s leaders, brilliance from Patrik Laine during an 11-game point streak, and contributions from up and down the lineup.
“Tomorrow is a new day, and we have to be ready for the next one,” defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov said.
Friday Game Lines
Patrik Laine - Boone Janner - Jakub Voracek
Gustav Nyquist - Jack Roslovic - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Max Domi - Sean Kuraly - Yegor Chinakhov
Brendan Gaunce - Cole Sillinger - Justin Danforth
Vladislav Gavrikov - Andrew Peeke
Dean Kukan - Adam Boqvist
Gabriel Carlsson - Gavin Bayreuther
Goalies: Jean-Francois Berube and Elvis Merzlikins
Scratches: Emil Bemstrom, Zach Werenski (upper body, day to day)
COVID Protocol: none
IR: Eric Robinson, Alexandre Texier, Nathan Gerbe, Jake Bean, Joonas Korpisalo, Daniil Tarsov
—Patrick Laine snapped an 11-game point streak (13-8—21) against the Hurricanes, but there’s no question he’s the Blue Jackets player to watch.
And now for the Pens..
Saturday Game Lines
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Danton Heinen - Evgeni Malkin - Jeff Carter
Brock McGinn - Jeff Carter - Evan Rodrigues
Zach Aston-Reese - Brian Boyle - Dominik Simon
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / John Marino
Mark Friedman / Chad Ruhwedel
Goalies: Casey DeSmith and Tristan Jarry
Scratches: Kasper Bjorkqvist
COVID Protocol: none
IR: Jason Zucker (week-to-week, core surgery), Louis Domingue, Teddy Blueger (week-to-week, broken jaw)
—Pierre Olivier-Joseph was, like Mark Friedman, recently recalled from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Will he earn Penguins ice time?
—Tristan Jarry’s stellar performance Saturday helped the Penguins earn a shutout victory— but will the Penguins trend toward the hot goaltender, or vary the workload between their available netminders?
—Milestone and streak watch
- While notching his 75th game-winning goal (good for second place on the Penguins’ all-time game-winning goals list), Malkin extended his point streak to five games (3-3—6).
Trivia answer: The only defenseman with more assists than Letang so far this season is the New York Rangers’ Adam Fox.