Penguins (22-11-2) vs. Islanders (22-9-4)
PPG Paints Arena | Pittsburgh, PA
Saturday, March 27 | 7:00PM Eastern
AT&TSN-P | NBCSN
Following the Statement Game™ on Saturday night, which saw the Penguins tell the PDO Gods to suck it, the Pens welcome the Islanders back to the Paint Can for the 8th and final matchup between the two Roth IRA East Division rivals.
On the line: a 6th win against the Isles this season, 2nd place in the division, and the Pens 3 game winning streak.
If this isn’t getting Phil Collins kicking in your teeth while singing that Mike Tyson song, nothing will.
Other things that should kick your teeth in include Jason Zucker returning to practice on Sunday, skating with McCann and ERod and working with the 2nd powerplay unit.
Elsewhere on the hurty front, Jankowski and Tanev found themselves on the COVID Protocol list ahead of Saturday’s game, but were removed from it on Sunday. Still, Tanev has yet to rejoin the regular team for practice (he and Blueger have been working with skills coach Ty Hennes), so it’s within reason to assume he won’t be available tonight.
However, with the way the bottom 6 played without Jankowski on Saturday from a shooting-the-puck standpoint, it should also be within reason for him not to find himself in the lineup tonight, either. Via Natural Stat Trick:
But yesterday’s practice lines are any indication, however, Jankowski will get 4th line duties tonight, which are shown below.
If Zucker can’t go tonight, expect ZAR to bump back up with McCann and Rodrigues, Sceviour to the 3rd line with Gaudreau and Lafferty, and Angello to skate with Jankowski and Zahorna.
Another reasonable assumption is that Tristan Jarry gets the cage again. The Pens are 15-3-1 at home this season and a lot of that comes down to the goaltending they are getting at PPG.
In 14 starts at the Can, Jarry is 11-2-1 with a .930 SV% and 2.35 GAA in all situations. At 5v5, Jarry’s clicking at a .940 SV% and has saved 2.61 goals above expectation.
For DeSmith in his 5 starts, he’s 4-1-0 with a shutout, a .930 SV%, and 1.97 GAA. At 5v5, it’s .931 with 1.25 goals saved above expectation.
Guentzel – Crosby – Rust
Zucker – McCann – Rodrigues
Aston-Reese – Gaudreau – Lafferty
Sceviour – Jankowski – Zahorna
Dumoulin – Letang
Matheson – Ceci
Pettersson – Marino
As for the Islanders, they are 5-5-1 in the second game against the same opponent this season. When they lose the first game of these miniseries, they are 1-2-1 in that second game.
They are also 9-8-1 on the road this season.
Once again, the key to stymying the Islanders success against the Penguins lives and dies with shutting down Barzal, Eberle, and Nelson.
Barzal was a menace all game long on Saturday, scoring a goal and adding an assist to go along with 4 shots on goal. He’s now got 5 goals and 10 assists across 18 games against the Penguins in his career. At 5v5 on Saturday, his line with Komarov and Eberle took a 9-7 edge in shot attempts, 8-3 in unblocked attempts, 6-1 in shots on goal, outscored the Penguins 1-0, and controlled 86.37% of the expected goals (all via Natural Stat Trick).
It did take Eberle (5 SOG) and Nelson until garbage time to get on the scoresheet. Eberle’s goal gave him 12 (plus 5 assists) in his regular season career against the Penguins (27 games), while Nelson’s assist brought his haul to 14G-10A-24P in 32 career games against the Pens.
Trotz will likely turn back to Varlamov tonight after the Pens chased Sorokin, snapping his 8 game win streak in the process.
Dating back to his time with the Caps, Varlamov is 6-4-4 against the Pens with a .898 SV%. With the Islanders, it hasn’t been any better. In 8 regular season games, he’s 2-2-3 with .892 SV%, having allowed 25 goals over these last two seasons.
Komarov – Barzal – Eberle
Bellows – Nelson – Bailey
Beauvillier – Pageau – Wahlstrom
Clutterbuck – Cizikas – Martin
Pelech – Pulock
Leddy – Mayfield
Hickey – Green
House money tonight. Sink the Isles.