Preview: Penguins at Ducks
The Pittsburgh Penguins begin a season-high five-game road trip Friday against the Anaheim Ducks, who are mired in a franchise-worst nine-game losing streak (0-6-3). Ottawa snapped an eight-game slide Wednesday with a 2-1 overtime victory over Anaheim, which has scored 12 goals during its skid, while Pittsburgh has no such offensive woes - recording 40 goals in winning nine of its last 10 contests.
“In the offensive zone, we’re standing still,” Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm told reporters. “If you look at the high-scoring teams in the league, it feels like they have guys flying everywhere. They involve the ‘D’ a lot and have forwards coming up. It’s hard to defend teams with guys always on the move. A lot of times, we get stagnant. We need to find ways to get through (the opposing defense).” The Penguins' hot streak has coincided with the resurgence of Bryan Rust, who has scored 10 of his 11 goals this season in the last 13 games after recording two in Tuesday's 5-1 victory over Florida. “I’ve been the product of some real good plays,” Rust told reporters. “Just try to keep my feet moving, get to open space and guys are finding me and I’m able to put it in.” Anaheim has won three straight meetings including 4-2 on Dec. 17 in Pittsburgh as John Gibson made 28 saves, improving to 4-3-0 with a 3.47 goals-against average and .895 save percentage against his hometown team.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, Prime Ticket (Anaheim), Sportsnet East, Sportsnet Ontario, Sportsnet Pacific
ABOUT THE PENGUINS (24-13-6): Sidney Crosby has scored five times and recorded 16 assists in his last 13 games, increasing his team-leading totals to 20 goals and 53 points. Evgeni Malkin (13 goals, 45 points) has recorded a point in all four January games (goal, four assists) and is a plus-3 during that span, improving his club-worst rating to minus-11. Patric Hornqvist (15 goals, 26 points) left Tuesday's game midway through the first period after taking a puck to the face.
ABOUT THE DUCKS (19-17-8): Rickard Rakell, who scored 87 goals in the three previous seasons but has only five in 31 games in 2018-19, returned Wednesday after missing 13 contests (ankle) and was a minus-2 with two shots in 19 minutes, 25 seconds of ice time. Ryan Getzlaf (nine goals, team-high 29 points) hasn't recorded a point in his last eight games - the longest drought of his career. Jakob Silfverberg scored Wednesday and shares the team lead in goals (11) with Pontus Aberg and Ondrej Kase, who haven't scored in seven and four games, respectively.
1. Pittsburgh D Brian Dumoulin is a team-high plus-27, which was second-best in the league behind Calgary D Mark Giordano (plus-31) entering Thursday.
2. Anaheim has played a league-most 13 overtime games at home and won five of them.
3. The Penguins are 6-1-1 versus the Pacific Division while the Ducks are 7-3-1 against the Metropolitan.
PREDICTION: Penguins 3, Ducks 2