Who: San Jose Sharks (14-25-11, 39 points, 7th place Pacific Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (24-15-9, 57 points, 5th place Metropolitan Division)
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet Pittsburgh in the Western PA viewing market, NBC Sports Bay Area & California for the visitors, ESPN+
Opponent Track: The Sharks have lost seven of their last eight games, which might not necessarily be a bad thing given this team is within tanking-for-Bedard territory (only Arizona, Anaheim, Chicago and Columbus have fewer points.) They’re facing the Penguins during a tough stretch: they’re five games into an eight-game road trip and on the second half of a back-to-back set. Last night, they went to overtime in Raleigh before losing to the Hurricanes, 5-4.
Pens Path Ahead: The Penguins are breaking until February 7 thanks to the All-Star weekend and a bye week. We’ll see them again when they return to PPG Paints for a Tuesday night matchup against the Avalanche before heading out on a California road trip.
Season Series: Today marks the first time the Penguins are meeting this West coast opponent this season. Last year, the Pens swept the season series with an 8-5 rout at home on January 2 and a 2-1 overtime win, courtesy of Jake Guentzel, in San Jose on January 15.
Hidden Stat: The Sharks are 9-14-3, while getting outscored 92-76***, in road games. (On the other hand, the Penguins are 14-5-4, and have outscored visitors 83-68, while at home.)
Getting to know the Sharks
SBN partner blog: Fear the Fin
Friday’s Game Lines
Michael Eyssimont - Logan Couture - Alexander Barbanov
Timo Meier - Tomas Hertl - Kevin Labanc
Noah Gregor - Nico Sturm - Nick Bonino
Oskar Lindblom - Steven Lorentz - Evgeny Svechnikov
Jaycob Megna - Erik Karlsson
Scott Harrington - Matthew Benning
Mario Ferraro - Jacob MacDonald
Goalies: Kaapo Kahkonen (James Reimer started last night)
Scratches: Martin Kaut, Jonah Gadjovich, Marc-Edouard Vlasic (missed Friday’s game for undisclosed reasons)
IR: Luke Kunin, Radim Simek, Markus Nutivaara
- Because James Reimer started last night, bets are Kahkonen will be facing the Penguins today. He’s looking for his first win since January 10— in his last two starts, the Sharks lost 7-1 to Edmonton and 5-3 in Columbus, respectively.
- Michael Eyssimont, who the Sharks claimed from waivers after the Winnipeg attempted to send him to the minors earlier in January, has quickly become a roster regular in San Jose.
- After centering the Sharks’ third line last season, Nick Bonino has shifted to the wing this year after his line became, statistically, one of the worst offensive trios in hockey.
via hockeydb (heading into Friday’s game)
- The Sharks traded winger Matt Nieto, who had eight goals and 15 points in 45 games, to the Avalanche on Wednesday.
- Just like in the good old days, the Sharks are being powered by defenseman Erik Karlsson. With 64 points (15 goals, 49 assists) in 50 games, he is the only Sharks player producing at a point-per-game pace.
- After a shortened 2021-22 season plagued by shoulder injuries, Kevin Labanc has returned to being the productive player the Sharks are looking for in their second-highest-paid winger.
- Timo Meier is on a tear— he has 28 goals in 50 games, including four in his last six.
With 25 goals in 45 games, Timo Meier's now on pace for about 46 tallies across an 82-game szn pic.twitter.com/byKFXaATh9— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) January 16, 2023
- Part of that red goaltending stat is Kaapo Kahkonen, the goaltender the Pens are expected to face tonight, who has a 5-9-4 record, .869 SV% and 3.88 GAA in 19 starts.
- The Sharks have put together one of the most effective penalty kills in the NHL this season, although that was impacted by the loss of key killer Nieto in the recent trade with the Avalanche.
And now for the Pens...
Potential Game Lines
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell
Brock McGinn - Teddy Blueger - Jeff Carter
Drew O’Connor - Ryan Poehling - Danton Heinen
Marcus Pettersson / Jeff Petry
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
P.O. Joseph / Chad Ruhwedel
Goalies: Casey DeSmith or Dustin Tokarski
Scratches: Tristan Jarry, Mark Friedman
IR: Jan Rutta, Josh Archibald, Kasperi Kapanen (lower body injury, week-to-week)
- Tristan Jarry will not be returning before the All-Star break, as per Mike Sullivan, so we’ll see either Casey DeSmith or Dustin Tokarski in the crease tonight.
- After a day off on Friday, the Penguins will return to the ice for a morning skate today before the game tonight. Any late injury or return news will be available then.