Fresh off a big comeback victory the Pens are soaring once more.
The Pens certainly gave fans a slight scare in the first period of their game vs. Vancouver. After quickly going down 0-3 to the 26th-place Canucks in just the first eight minutes of the game it looked like this team might be cooked. Then unexpected hero Dustin Tokarski took the net and Evgeni Malkin took over the game. Malkin opened the Penguins' scoring and the team did not slow down from their pelting Vancouver for four unanswered goals in response and earning a comeback 5-4 victory.
Dustin Tokarski got his first win as a Pittsburgh Penguin in his debut and in relief of Casey DeSmith who was pulled after those three quick, opening goals against.
The team now heads into a critical weekend back-to-back scenario with some real spark. That series starts Friday against the eight-place Jets.
One of the most important new developments for the Penguins is the sudden reappearance of their power play. They scored two goals on the man advantage against the Canucks. Evgeni Malkin factored into both as the scorer and set-up man to Rickard Rakell.
Sorting out the power play has been a critical issue facing this team for months. Its 20th-place ranking is drastically underachieving for hosting an All-Star team's worth of offensive talents. Every player on the unit has actually been an NHL All-Star before save for young triggerman Ty Smith. But they might finally be turning a corner. And if the Penguins can put together a competent power play along with their third-ranked penalty kill unit and steady 5 vs. 5 play, the league has a big problem on its hands.
Tonight they'll look to build on that against Winnipeg who brings a Top Five penalty kill to town. They're a far more robust test than the Canucks were but if Evgeni Malkin has anything to say about it the Penguins will be up to the challenge.
Pens Game #41: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Winnipeg Jets
Date: January 13, 2023
Time: 7 PM (ET)
Place: Pittsburgh, PA
Venue: PPG Paints Arena
Broadcasts: Local- ATTSN, National- NHL Network
Records- PIT: 21-13-6, WPG: 27-14-1
Last 10- PIT: 3-5-2, WPG: 6-4-0
Streaks- PIT: 2 Wins, WPG: 1 Win
Standings- PIT: 15th, WPG: 7th
Points- PIT: 48, WPG: 53
Season Series- 1-0 PIT
Series Goals For- PIT: 3, WPG: 0
Team Analytics Comparison:
Confirmed starting goalies-
-DUSTIN TOKARSKI- #40
Bio Info: 6' 0", 198 lbs. DOB: 9/16/1989 (33). From: Humboldt, SK.
Drafted: 2010- Rd 5, Pk 122 (TBL). Experience: 9th Season.
Record: 1-0-0, 1.15 GAA, .947 SV%
Career vs. WPG: 0-1-0, 5.00 GAA, .773 SV%
-DAVID RITTICH- #33
Bio Info: 6' 3", 206 lbs. DOB: 8/19/1992 (30). From: Jihlava, Czechia.
Drafted: Undrafted. Experience: 6th Season.
Record: 6-4-0, 2.75 GAA, .905 SV%
Career vs. PIT: 0-0-2, 3.45 GAA, .892 SV%
The Pens kick off a weekend back-to-back series tonight which continues on Saturday against the Hurricanes. This is their first of an upcoming four back-to-back sets over the next two months.
Tristan Jarry (lower body) and Ryan Poehling (undisclosed) were placed on Injured Reserve retroactive to January 2nd and December 30th respectively on Wednesday by the team. Both continue to work on ice individually apart from team practices. Jeff Petry (upper body) is continuing solo workouts as well. No updated timetables were given for all three men.
Josh Archibald (lower body) did not practice or skate separately and there was no update on him. His official status as "day-to-day" appears to be underselling his prognosis at this point as Archibald has been sidelined for the entire first two weeks of January.
Mark Friedman was re-assigned to the AHL and defenseman Taylor Fedun was recalled in his place. Friedman was a few games from needing to be placed on waivers to be sent down. Fedun is a much less likely waiver target so the team switched them for simple logistical reasons. But Jan Rutta did miss Thursday's practice for a maintenance day so Fedun's presence is possibly also for insurance purposes in case a defenseman is needed in a pinch.
Ty Smith had his first two-point game as a Penguin on Tuesday night vs. Vancouver in just his fifth outing with the team. He's showing really promising initial results with the team thus far.
-Josh Archibald (F): IR, lower body, day-to-day.
-Tristan Jarry (G): IR, lower body, undisclosed.
-Jeff Petry (D): IR, upper body, week-to-week.
-Ryan Poehling (F): IR, undisclosed, game-time decision.
The projected Penguins lines for Friday, January 13, 2023, vs. the Winnipeg Jets:
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell
Danton Heinen - Jeff Carter - Kasperi Kapanen
Drew O’Connor - Teddy Blueger - Brock McGinn
Marcus Pettersson - Jan Rutta
Brian Dumoulin - Ty Smith
P. O. Joseph - Chad Ruhwedel
PP1: Malkin, Crosby, Guentzel, Rakell, Smith
PP2: Carter, Rust, Heinen, Kapanen, Joseph
PK1: Blueger, McGinn, Dumoulin, Rutta
PK2: Carter, Rust, Ruhwedel, Pettersson
The Jets also find themselves in a back-to-back game scenario as these teams meet. They're already on the second half of theirs, however. They play the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night before heading to Pittsburgh. So the Penguins will be getting a tired team who are on a long-haul road trip quite a ways from Winnipeg.
Winnipeg started #1 goalie Connor Hellebuyck against Buffalo last night (a 4-2 Jets victory). That means the 2-0 Pens who have suddenly found a powerplay will face backup David Rittich on Friday. Rittich has never beaten the Penguins in his career.
-Mason Appleton (F): IR, wrist, out until 1/26.
-David Gustafsson (F): IR, upper-body, undisclosed.
-Logan Stanley (D): IR, lower-body, out day-to-day.
For The Penguins: Evgeni Malkin. Geno had a monster four-point night against Vancouver on Tuesday in one of his most legendary performances in recent memory. The Pens' big comeback win was spearheaded by #71. Malkin has five points in the last two games alone and is visibly playing with a fervor we haven't seen out of him in years. It's exciting stuff for the Penguins faithful because when Evgeni's at his best the Pens are too.
For The Jets: Kyle Connor & Pierre-Luc Dubois. The Penguins might have their hands full Friday as two of Winnipeg's best young stars are both on hot streaks simultaneously. It was impossible to pick between the two for the "one to watch" so consider these the "two to take notice of" instead. Connor is currently on an eight-game point streak that stretches well back into December. He accumulated 14 points total during that time. He also has five multi-point games in that eight-game span. And now he's coming directly off of a two-point game vs. Buffalo. Dubois isn't doing too bad himself either. "PLD" just ended a seven-game point streak last night. He managed to rack up 11 points in that run including a four-point night against the Canucks three games ago.