Preview: Penguins at Blues
The St. Louis Blues continue adding players to the injured list along with victories to their record and the reigning Stanley Cup champions go for another when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night. The Blues lost center Oskar Sundqvist (five goals in five games) during the 4-3 win at Tampa Bay on Wednesday to a lower-body injury but did not break stride, prevailing 3-1 at Dallas on Friday.
“We have so many injuries and you see guys are stepping up and playing our style of hockey,” St. Louis center Ryan O’Reilly told FS Midwest after Friday’s win. “That’s tough to do. … Everyone just contributes the right way, and it’s effective.” The Blues, who have four regular forwards on the injured list, plugged in Nathan Walker up front for his season debut Friday while the Penguins won’t feel a bit of sympathy for them with captain Sidney Crosby (hernia) out and red-hot forward Bryan Rust missing the 5-2 loss at Columbus on Friday when he was injured at the morning skate. Pittsburgh has made due with several injuries through the first half of the season though, winning three straight and gaining a point in six in a row before the loss to Blue Jackets. “We didn’t play hard enough. We didn’t play smart enough,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after the loss. “. … We didn’t play well enough to win. It’s as simple as that.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, FS Midwest (St. Louis)
ABOUT THE PENGUINS (14-8-4): Forward Jake Guentzel stayed hot Friday with a goal and an assist and leads the team with 27 points, recording at least one in seven consecutive contests while scoring seven times in that span. All-Star Evgeni Malkin has also picked up his production of late with 14 of his 21 points in his last seven games and defenseman Kris Letang notched his sixth goal of the season at Columbus. Matt Murray (9-4-4, 2.72 goals-against average, .901 save percentage) has struggled lately by giving up 13 goals in his last three outings, but is expected between the pipes after Tristan Jarry played Friday.
ABOUT THE BLUES (16-5-6): Forwards David Perron (11 goals, 26 points) and Brayden Schenn (13, 24) each extended their point streaks to six games Friday and O’Reilly scored for the first time in nine contests. Walker had one hit in 10 minutes of playing time Friday while Derrick Pouliot (one shot, two hits, one block in 10:36) also made his season debut with fellow defensemen Carl Gunnarsson (illness) and Robert Bortuzzo (suspension) scratched. Jake Allen turned aside 31 shots for the victory at Dallas and No. 1 goalie Jordan Binnington (12-4-4, 2.27 GAA, .925 SP) is expected to tend the net Saturday.
1. Pittsburgh D Brian Dumoulin leads the team with a plus-17 rating and is tied for third in the league.
2. St. Louis D Alex Pietrangelo (19 points) needs one goal for 100 in his career, but has gone 10 games without one.
3. The teams have split the season series the last three seasons with the visiting team winning all six games.
PREDICTION: Blues 4, Penguins 2