It's time to shine on center stage for the Pens as they visit Tinseltown.
The Anaheim sunshine was surprisingly good to these normally arctic-dwelling Penguins on Friday night. They beat the Ducks 6-3 in one of their commanding showings in ages. The Pens completely controlled the game pace throughout the full 60. And they finally closed out a win in regulation as the icing on the cake.
Pittsburgh had to accomplish that without Kris Letang who was sidelined at the last minute due to illness. The team has assured reporters that this is unrelated to the stroke he suffered earlier this season and that Letang might play against LA if he is able to bounce back from this bug quickly.
Despite that rough start to the night, the Pens made a little history along the way to the win on Friday. Evgeni Malkin scored his 1,200th NHL career point with his assist on Bryan Rust's third-period goal. Malkin became the second-fastest active player to reach that 1,200-point mark accomplishing it in just 1,032 games. He sits just behind teammate Sidney Crosby, of course, in the first-place spot. Sid accomplished the same feat in just 927 games.
Malkin's big milestone moment is below:
While "Geno" took the bulk of the spotlight by hitting 1,200, P.O. Joseph had himself quite a night as well. Joseph recorded his first-ever two-goal game in the NHL. The Pens' easy pick for rookie of the year put up a phenomenal three-point night in total and lead the team's impressive game score output with a whopping 4.60.
The Penguins face a more substantial challenge in this second game as they drive about an hour north of Orange County to downtown LA to spar with the Kings.
Los Angeles is just one place ahead of the Pens in the standings at 12th but has a decisive advantage on Saturday. This is the Kings' first game back in action since the All-Star break. The last time they played was January 31st. That means they are coming into tonight on 10 days of rest. While the Penguins are playing on zero days and in their third game this week. The major discrepancy in fatigue factors is clearly to the Kings' advantage.
The Pens will get an extra half hour to recover before the puck drops though as the start time for this one has been pushed all the way back to 11 PM Eastern to accommodate the King's retirement ceremony for Dustin Brown. That means it will be past 1 AM back in the East by the time this one ends so take a nap today, Penguins fans.
Pens Game #52: Pittsburgh Penguins at Los Angeles Kings
Date: February 11, 2022
Time: 11 PM (ET)
Place: Los Angeles, CA
Venue: Crypto.com Arena
Penguins Broadcast: AT&T Sportsnet
Kings Broadcast: Bally Sports West
Online Stream: ESPN+
Penguins Radio: 105.9 The X/Penguins Radio Network
Kings Radio: AM 570 LA Sports/iHeartRadio
Records- PIT: 26-16-9, LAK: 28-18-7
Last 10- PIT: 5-2-3, LAK: 5-4-1
Streaks- PIT: 2 Wins, LAK: 2 Losses
Standings- PIT: 13th, LAK: 12th
Points- PIT: 61, LAK: 63
Season Series- 1-0 PIT
Series Goals For- PIT: 6, LAK: 1
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: 9-10-4, 3.22 GAA, .905 SV%
Career vs. LAK: 1-1-0, 2.53 GAA, .906 SV%
-JONATHAN QUICK- #32
[Los Angeles Kings]
Bio Info: 6' 1", 216 lbs. DOB: 1/21/1986 (37). From: Hamden, CT.
Drafted: 2005: Rd 3, Pk 72 (LA). Experience: 15th Season.
Record: 8-12-4, 3.41 GAA, .881 SV%
Career vs. PIT: 5-4-5, 2.71 GAA, .907 SV%
The biggest development for the Pens recently is the fact Kris Letang was a last-minute scratch on Friday due to illness. That worried onlookers for a moment with Letang's recent health problems but Head Coach Mike Sullivan said Kris could play today if he feels better. Sully was non-committal on saying for certain though and given the circumstances, plus the Pens getting a strong 6-3 win without him, it would not be surprising to see them hold #58 out for precautionary reasons for one more game just to be safe.
Mark Friedman joined the roster in place of Letang on Friday. He performed solidly for a last-minute addition with four shots, one hit, one block, and one penalty drawn. He had a scrap and defended Jake Guentzel after he was tripped up roughly. Friedman hit all the right notes for his player type.
Unless there's some further word from the team, Coach Sullivan implied Casey DeSmith will in fact start both games on consecutive days and take the net once again for the second half of this back-to-back against LA as well. It will be a career-high sixth straight start for DeSmith, who's coming right off of a 28-save game vs. Anaheim.
-Tristan Jarry (G): upper body, day-to-day.
-Kris Letang (D): illness, day-to-day.
-Jan Rutta (D): LTIR, upper body, day-to-day.
The projected Penguins lines for Sunday, February 11, 2023, at the Los Angeles Kings:
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
Marcus Pettersson - Jeff Petry
Brian Dumoulin - Mark Friedman
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
Los Angles is missing a few key hands for this one. Forwards Carl Grundstrom and Gabriel Vilardi are both out with injuries. Fellow forward Trevor Moore is also ailing and did not take contact in the Kings' last practice but he has not been ruled out for tonight's game against the Pens.
-Carl Grundstrom (F): IR, lower body, day to day/out for Saturday.
-Jacob Ingham (G): IR, back surgery, out until April.
-Trevor Moore (F): IR, upper body, day to day.
-Gabriel Vilardi (F): upper body, day to day/out for Saturday.
For The Penguins: Evgeni Malkin. (Seriously, sit down Sid and his nine-game point streak!) Evgeni Malkin scored his 1200th career point on Friday night, another huge milestone for the Penguins legend. He also has four multi-point games in his last five games played, including three consecutive multi-point games. Altogether he's scored 10 points in his last five games played. That's an average of two points every time he touches the ice lately. So keep your eyes on Evgeni!
For The Kings: Anze Kopitar. Look at the veteran stars both highlighting the “Ones To Watch” section. You love to see it. The king of the Kings', Anze Kopitar, has racked up six points in his last five games including a three-point (1G, 2A) night during his last time out on January 31st against the Hurricanes. Kopitar usually has his role locked in as Sidney Crosby's defensive shadow when the Penguins and the Kings meet but don't be surprised to see him factor in more on offense while he's on this kind of point-production spell.