The Birds hit the beaches of SoCal to search for more success.
The Penguins pulled off a gutsy, late rally overtime win against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. It will be remembered as a pivotal character proving victory in the overall story of this season. Colorado controlled the play dominantly for the entirety of the game but the Pens held on in that whirlwind long enough to go past regulation. The victory came courtesy of Kris Letang with yet another game-winning OT goal. It was his second in the last three Pens overtime games and puts him in the history books once more as he claimed another impressive NHL record:
Now the Penguins hit the road out on the West Coast to take on a weekend back-to-back series in Southern California beginning at the Anaheim Ducks on Friday. It's a red-eye watch for Pittsburgh fans as the game begins at 10 PM in the east.
The Pens barely beat Anaheim, 4-3, less than a month ago on January 16th. The Ducks' young superstars like Trevor Zegras put on a dazzling display and almost outpaced the flat-footed older Penguins team. Goaltending was the factor that came up large to hold the Ducks under control and it will remain a key element in tonight's game as well. The consecutive playing days mean goalie usage is the topic of the moment. Much more than usual in these cases, as it appears starter Tristan Jarry is edging increasingly closer if not imminently ready to return from injury.
That's good news because one of these next two games will likely have to be played by a goalie other than Casey DeSmith, who has started a career-record four games in a row for the Penguins. Third-string goaltender Dustin Tokarski made the trip with the team but was not one of the two primary tenders participating in Thursday's practice. DeSmith and Jarry took on those duties. Now we wait to see who takes the extra game: Tokarski or Tristan Jarry finally returning (yet again) from the injured list.
While the goalie scenario remains the leading subject of conversation, Sidney Crosby has silently extended his point streak to eight games during the victory over Colorado. It's his longest point streak of the season.
On the matter of team performances ahead of Friday's game, the Ducks have a surprisingly solid record of 5-3-2 in their last 10. The Penguins, on the other hand, have had difficulties and have been bogged down in OT games repeatedly. This mediocre streak has resulted in a fairly evenly split 4-3-3 record. They're winning, they're losing, and they're stuck in overtime. They're a hot mess for the amount of talent on the ice. A long road trip in the tough situation of three late-night starts in a row might be just what's needed to wake them up.
Pens Game #51: Pittsburgh Penguins at Anaheim Ducks
Date: February 10, 2023
Time: 10 PM (ET)
Place: Anaheim, CA
Venue: Honda Center
Penguins Broadcast: AT&T Sportsnet
Ducks Broadcast: Bally Sports West
Canadian Broadcast: Sportsnet, TVAS
Online Stream: ESPN+
Penguins Radio: 105.9 The X/Penguins Radio Network
Ducks Radio: Ducks Stream
Records- PIT: 25-16-9, ANA: 17-29-6
Last 10- PIT: 4-3-3, ANA: 5-3-2
Streaks- PIT: 1 Win, ANA: 1 Win
Standings- PIT: 15th, ANA: 30th
Points- PIT: 59, ANA: 40
Season Series- 1-0 PIT
Series Goals For- PIT: 4, ANA: 3
Team Analytics Comparison:
Projected starting goalies-
-CASEY DESMITH- #1
Bio Info: 6' 0", 181 lbs. DOB: 8/13/1991 (31). From: Rochester, NH.
Drafted: Undrafted; Experience: 5th Season.
Record: 8-10-4, 3.23 GAA, .905 SV%
Career vs. ANA: 2-1-0, 2.02 GAA, .938 SV%
-JOHN GIBSON- #36
Bio Info: 6' 2", 207 lbs. DOB: 7/14/1993 (29). From: Pittsburgh, PA.
Drafted: 2011- Rd 2, Pk 39 (ANA). Experience: 9th Season.
Record: 10-20-5, 3.89 GAA, .900 SV%
Career vs. PIT: 5-6-1, 3.37 GAA, .898 SV%
Josh Archibald & Kasperi Kapanen's return performances on Tuesday were fairly uneventful and unnoticeable. Archibald only registered a single shot in nearly 10 minutes of ice time. Kapanen showed slightly better with three shots on goal, four hits, and two blocks in 13:08 TOI.
Tristan Jarry (upper body) took full-speed practice without limitations yesterday. It was his first time back practicing game pace situations since he was sidelined. That indicates he's incredibly close to returning and we should probably expect to see him hit the rink for a game at some point in California by all appearances.
Jan Rutta (upper body) made the trip with the team to continue practicing but is still required to be out until February 15th due to his Long-Term Injured Reserve designation.
-Tristan Jarry (G): IR, upper body, day-to-day.
-Jan Rutta (D): LTIR, upper body, day-to-day.
The projected Penguins lines for Friday, February 10, 2023, at the Anaheim Ducks:
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell
Brock McGinn - Jeff Carter - Kasperi Kapanen
Ryan Poehling - Teddy Blueger - Josh Archibald
Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson - Jeff Petry
P. O. Joseph - Chad Ruhwedel
PP1: Malkin, Crosby, Guentzel, Rakell, Letang
PP2: Carter, Rust, Zucker, Kapanen, Petry
PK1: Carter/Poehling, Rust, Dumoulin, Petry
PK2: Blueger, McGinn, Ruhwedel, Pettersson
Ducks Update: Ducks All-Star centerman Troy Terry was injured on Monday night and is unlikely to play against the Penguins. It's a real coup for Pittsburgh and a hard loss of perhaps the most crucial playmaker for Anaheim. They'll be pressed to make up Terry's production in-house with their limited talent. As Terry and Trevor Zegras are the only two players the Ducks have in the top 100 of NHL point producers.
Tonight's a game of familial flocks: the Penguins and Ducks remain two of the most intertwined teams in the league. Anaheim employs former Penguins Jayson Megna, Derek Grant, and Nathan Beaulieu (although the latter is a Pen in name only having never actually suited up in a game for the team). Pittsburgher John Gibson of course still remains the Ducks' #1 netminder. On the Pittsburgh side, Anaheim veterans include Rickard Rakell, Marcus Pettersson and Danton Heinen. In the front office, President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke (a former co-owner of the Ducks' franchise), Player Development Coach Matt Cullen, and performance guru Teena Murray all spent time with the Ducks.
-Jamie Drysdale (D): IR, shoulder surgery out until spring.
-Justin Kirkland (F): IR, undisclosed, out until 2/10.
-Troy Terry (F): upper body, day-to-day.
-Urho Vaakanainen (D): IR, lower body, out until 2/15.
For The Penguins: NOT Sidney Crosby. (It's Kris Letang) We've had to temporarily retire Sid from this space because the man has extended his point streak to eight games with no end in sight. He's a menace to sportswriters' creativity. It's just the Sidney Crosby Show 24/7. No other Penguin will get a shot unless the Captain is pulled from consideration. Therefore we're benching Sid and naming Kris Letang the "OTW". Kris is playing some clutch hockey and nailing the big moments lately. As mentioned above, he has two game-winning overtime goals in the last four games. That's in addition to five points in those four games too. It's not a bad stretch of work at all.
For The Ducks: Frank Vatrano. I regret to inform you that Frank Vatrano is back on his same old stuff again and just in time for the Pens to come to town! The "Penguin killer" has seven points in his last five games. That includes a hat trick just four games ago. Vatrano is a Pens specialist player and could really be a game-changing headache for the boys in black and gold if he continues to perform like this on Friday night.