Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (36-16-9, 81 points, 3rd place Metropolitan Division) @ St. Louis Blues (34-17-8, 76 points, 2nd place Central Division)
When: 8:00 p.m. Eastern
How to Watch: AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh (ATTSN-PT) locally in the Western PA viewing area, Bally Sports Mid-West (BSMW) in the St. Louis area, ESPN+
Opponent Track: The Blues were singing the, well, blues to start the month of March going 0-3-1 against the NY Rangers and Islanders, New Jersey and Ottawa. STL turned the tables with a big 6-2 win over those Rangers a week ago today and followed that up with a 7-4 win on Saturday against Nashville, before losing their last game 4-3 in OT to Winnipeg on Sunday and having a few days off to prepare for this day.
Pens Path Ahead: The Pens travel to Arizona on Saturday for a game at 5PM eastern before returning east, where they will host Columbus next Tuesday and make the quick trip to Buffalo on Wednesday.
Season Series: The Penguins defeated the Blues 5-3 in Pittsburgh back on January 5th. Bryan Rust (x2), Sidney Crosby, Evan Rodrigues and Brock McGinn scored for the Pens. Tristan Jarry came in for relief of Casey DeSmith and stopped all 13 STL shots he saw in the win.
SBN Counterpart Blog: Check out St. Louis Game Time to get ready in time for the game.
—One game after seeing a top Finnish goalie in Juuse Saros, the Pens’ next challenge could be seeing another Finish goalie having a great season in Ville Husso. Typical starter Jordan Binnington has played three games this month, including the last game with the last OT loss to Winnipeg. Husso has won his last two starts on March 10th and 12th.
—Funny to think there were questions about Vladimir Tarasenko’s future over this summer coming off some shoulder surgeries. Despite a trade request and being exposed to expansion, Tarasenko has remained with St. Louis, and it has worked out for the best on the ice with him returning to a point/game status and helping to lead the offense. Sometimes the best moves are the ones left not made, and STL is pretty fortunate the situation has played out the way it did.
—One other off-season move that has worked out was when NYR wanted to get bigger and tougher and gifted the Blues an almost point per game player in Pavel Buchnevich for Sammy Blais and a draft pick.
Brayden Schenn - Ryan O’Reilly - David Perron
Jordan Kyrou - Robert Thomas - Vladimir Tarasenko
Brandon Saad - Ivan Barbashev - Pavel Buchnevich
Mackenzie MacEachern - Oskar Sundqvist - Alexei Toropchenko
Marco Scandella / Colton Parayko
Torey Krug / Justin Faulk
Niko Mikkola / Robert Bortuzzo
Goalies: Ville Husso and Jordan Binnington
Scratches: Tyler Bozak (injured), Logan Brown, Jake Walman
IR: Scott Peruvonich
—The Blues are surprisingly hard to find updated lines for in the past few days since their last game, and they’re having a bit of lineup mayhem as well. Tyler Bozak tweaked something on Monday in practice and is now out a month. Torey Krug has been dealing with a non-COVID illness and Robert Thomas has had a minor injury. Pavel Buchnevich may return from a concussion tonight.
—The “second” line contains the three highest scorers on the team, with the top line a more veteran matchup line. The third line with Barbashev having a breakout season is very strong as well, St. Louis has a very nice top-nine forward group going for themselves.
—For an anonymous enough player, 6’4 185 pound Niko Mikkola played hard against the Pens in January and got under the skin of several players, most notably a scrum with Sidney Crosby that resulted in a punch to the Penguin captain’s face that had his visor bloody his nose. That’s something to keep an eye on to see if Mikkola has any further dust ups with the Pens.
Advanced Stat Matchup
STL is a very high-scoring team, at 3.54 goals/game they’re fifth in the NHL. But much like the Pens saw in Nashville, this isn’t a team who typically earns the goals through a process-heavy, lots of quantity of shots and chances. The Blues have been clinical at finishing, both at even strength and the power play (their PP% is 24.6%, third in NHL).
In fact, for a team that doesn’t shoot a lot, the puck is in St. Louis’ end generally, with them giving up a fair amount of xGA and Corsi events against them. The best way to combat that is having a top goalie performance and the Blues have had their netminders hold up their end of the deal in a major way.
And now for the Pens..
Tuesday Game Lines
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Evan Rodrigues
Danton Heinen - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Radim Zohorna - Jeff Carter - Kasperi Kapanen
Brian Boyle - Teddy Blueger - Dominik Simon
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Mike Matheson / John Marino
Mark Friedman / Chad Ruhwedel
Goalies: Tristan Jarry (Casey DeSmith)
Scratches: Zach Aston-Reese, Marcus Pettersson
IR: Jason Zucker (week-to-week, core surgery), Brock McGinn (week-to-week, upper body )
—Pittsburgh was off the ice yesterday as they traveled to St. Louis. We’ll see just how many of the line alterations that they used which end up sticking for tonight. It’s quite possible that either or both of the healthy scratches might be called upon to get back into the game.
Jake the Great
Pens PR chips in with this note about Jake Guentzel’s season and his propensity to find the scoreboard on the road.
Jake Guentzel leads all Penguins with 29 goals this season (29G-31A). He currently sits one goal shy of hitting the 30-goal plateau for the second time in his career (40 goals in 2018-19). In doing so, Guentzel would become the 23rd player in team history to have two or more 30 goal seasons with the team, and would be just the third player since 2005-06 to accomplish this feat (Sidney Crosby, 9; Evgeni Malkin, 6).
He’s also is fourth in the league in goals on the road (20) and points-per-game average (1.37):
Road Points-Per-Game Leaders
Player GP PTS PTS/GM
Connor McDavid 30 43 1.43
Leon Draisaitl 31 43 1.39
Roman Josi 29 40 1.38
Jake Guentzel 27 37 1.37
Nathan MacKinnon 26 35 1.35
Guentzel is one of just five Penguins since the 1997-98 campaign to record 20 or more road goals in a season along with Sidney Crosby (2016-17, ’18-19), Evgeni Malkin (2011-12), Robert Lang (2000-01) and Jaromir Jagr (2000-01, ‘99-00).
Guentzel scored Pittsburgh’s only goal on Tuesday night in Nashville.
Milestone and streak watch
- Sidney Crosby has an active ten game point streak going (6G+7A).
- Crosby (878) is one assist shy from surpassing Lidstrom for sole possession of 22nd place on the NHL’s all-time assist list.
- Tristan Jarry has 29 wins on the season, one away from his first career 30 win NHL season. Over his last five starts, Jarry has been in top form lately at 4-1-0 with a 1.82 goals-against average, a .944 save percentage and has one shutout.
- Kris Letang (634 career points) is two shy of tying Rick Kehoe for fifth place in the franchise’s all-time record books.
- Assuming he plays tonight, Kasperi Kapanen will appear in game No. 100 with Pittsburgh.