The Pittsburgh Penguins look to ride the momentum of a three-game winning streak into Wednesday’s home game versus the Vancouver Canucks.
Coming off a three-game losing streak and feeling some frustration, Pittsburgh outscored the opposition by an 11-1 margin in wins over the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets.
“This is our system,” Penguins defenseman Chad Ruhwedel said of the way the team played on the road trip. “It shows that when we stick to it, we’re pretty good.
“Three wins on a (three-game) road trip is awesome. They are three good teams, too. I think we are going to build from there.”
Pittsburgh played a strong two-way style on the trip and killed all seven opponent power plays to solidify its top spot in the NHL while shorthanded. The Penguins are killing 89.6 percent of opponent power plays this season.
Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry has been a key to the penalty kill and all other situations. His 2.09 goals-against average and .930 save percentage are better than any of his full-season numbers in his career.
On the road trip, Jarry turned in two shutouts.
It’s unclear whether the Penguins will stick with Jarry on Wednesday after he stopped 80 of 81 shots on the three-game trek, or give backup Casey DeSmith just his fourth start of the season.
Coach Mike Sullivan made it clear that DeSmith had been penciled in to start the final game of the road trip on Monday, but Jarry was given the nod after posting back-to-back shutouts.
Offensively, Pittsburgh’s top-line left winger Jake Guentzel is riding a career high-tying five-game goal streak. He leads the team in both goals (eight) and points (15).
“I think right now he’s just playing an honest game,” Sullivan said, “and he’s getting rewarded.”
Vancouver, which has lost six of its past seven games (1-5-1), has been idle since getting shut out by Marc-Andre Fleury and the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.
It was a missed opportunity for the Canucks.
“I’m not disappointed in how we played,” Vancouver coach Travis Green said of the 1-0 setback. “(We would) probably take that game every night, probably win it eight or nine times out of 10.”
That’s if the Canucks score, which has been a problem. Even though Sunday was the first time they have been shut out, they have managed just 13 goals over their past seven games.
Vancouver’s players don’t sound as patient as their coach.
“I’m tired — tired of making excuses,” team captain Bo Horvat said. “Again, we’ve got to find a way to score.”
Now, the Canucks are left to find their offense when they open a five-game road trip in Pittsburgh.
“It stinks, obviously,” winger Conor Garland said. “It would have been nice to win (Sunday) and hit the road with some confidence.
“There’s a lot of hockey left, so we’ve just got to keep going. We played pretty well again (Sunday). It (stinks) saying that when your record doesn’t look great. We just have to find a way to win some games.”
–Field Level Media
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