Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (2-2-0, 4 points, 5th place Metropolitan Division) @ St. Louis Blues (1-1-1, 3 points, 7th place Western Division)
How to Watch: Sportsnet Pittsburgh, Bally Sports Midwest, streaming on ESPN+
Pens’ Path Ahead: The Pens will next head back to PPG Paints for an extended stretch in Pittsburgh, with home games against the Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche, Ottawa Senators and Anaheim Ducks coming up in a six-day span starting Tuesday.
Opponent Track: Each of the Blues’ first two games of the season stretched past regulation and all the way into the shootout (where the Blues lost 2-1 to the Dallas Stars and won 2-1 over the Seattle Kraken), St. Louis finally had a contest with a decisive margin of victory on Thursday. Unfortunately, that margin went the Arizona Coyotes’ way. Former Penguins Nick Bjugstad and Jason Zucker scored as Arizona dominated in a 6-2 win in St. Louis. STL has scored just four goals in their three games.
Season Series: The Pens will meet back up with the Blues in the first game of a New Year’s Eve back-to-back set on December 30.
Last Year: A Kasperi Kapanen hat trick led the Penguins to a 6-2 win over the Blues in December. Although the Penguins allowed a tying goal late in regulation of their next contest in St. Louis in February, Bryan Rust scored in overtime to boost the Pens to a 3-2 victory and sweep the season series.
Hidden Stat: The Penguins are one of two NHL teams that Blues netminder Jordan Binnington has racked up double-digit penalty minutes against (the other being the Colorado Avalanche) thanks to a clash with Jason Zucker last December.
Getting to know the Blues
Projected Game Lines (from Thursday’s game)
Brandon Saad - Robert Thomas - Jordan Kyrou
Alexey Toropchenko - Brayden Schenn - Kasperi Kapanen
Jakub Vrana - Kevin Hayes - Sammy Blais
Nikita Alexandrov - Oskar Sundqvist - Jake Neighbours
Nick Leddy - Colton Parayko
Torey Krug - Justin Faulk
Marco Scandella - Tyler Tucker
Goalies: Jordan Binnington, Joel Hofer
Possible scratches: Pavel Buchnevich (lower-body injury)
IR: Josh Jacobs, Anton Malmstrom
- After a game off during the Blues’ first regulation loss of the season Thursday, Binnington is likely to be back in net tonight. Early returns indicate he might have regained confidence after what was statically the worst campaign of his career last season.
Jordan Binnington is putting on a show in OT pic.twitter.com/RhkuhU5iqL— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) October 13, 2023
- Buchnevich missed the Blues’ last game on Thursday after exiting their contest against the Kraken early following a hard cross-check into the boards. He was “still not ready to get on the ice” as of Wednesday, but might rejoin the team for today’s morning skate, according to Blues head coach Craig Berube.
Berube on Buchnevich, who skated this morning: “Better … he’s doing better, so hopefully he’ll be on the ice tomorrow with the group. But we’ll see.” #stlblues— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) October 20, 2023
- Kapanen is skating on the Blues’ second line, where he has two shots and zero points through three games. If the irony-loving hockey deities have anything to say about it, he’ll get his first point of the season tonight.
- Unlike the Pens (so far), the Blues have done some offensive damage when their top two lines aren’t on the ice. Third-line winger Jakub Vrana is one to keep an eye on.
And now for the Pens...
Infographic courtesy of Pens PR
Projected Game Lines (from Friday’s practice)
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Reilly Smith - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell
Drew O’Connor - Lars Eller - Matt Nieto
Radim Zohorna - Noel Acciari - Jeff Carter
Ryan Graves / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / Erik Karlsson
Ryan Shea / Chad Ruhwedel
Goalies: Tristan Jarry and Alex Nedeljkovic
Expected scratches: P.O. Joseph, John Ludvig
Season opening IR: Raivis Ansons, Will Butcher
- When the Blues are the opponent, Tristan Jarry steps up. In five career games against the Blues, Jarry has a 1.32 GAA, a .950 save percentage and one shutout. That’s the best Blues record of any active goaltender with minimum three games played against St. Louis, according to Pens PR.
- Jansen Harkins, who was waived Thursday after being unable to provide any offensive spark for the bottom six through four games, cleared waivers. Former-and-current Penguin Radim Zohorna was called up and will be taking his place in the lineup.
- After the Ruhwedel-Joseph pairing got burned a few times during Wednesday’s loss to the Red Wings, it looks like the Pens are considering splitting them up tonight— and according to DK Pittsburgh Sports’ Taylor Haase, it’s like to be Joseph that ends up scratched. Sullivan said after practice he hasn’t been “at his best” lately, and Ruhwedel was skating with Shea during Friday’s practice.
- Head coach Mike Sullivan expects Kris Letang and Noel Acciari, who both missed practice earlier this week, to be available for Saturday’s game, per Pens Inside Scoop.