There were only two games on Wednesday and one of them was of minimum consequence as neither Detroit nor Ottawa is likely to seriously compete for a playoff spot this season. The Lightning-Penguins game was of interest though with the Lightning being a potential Stanley Cup contender this season and Pittsburgh being something of an X-Factor.
For a predictions column before the campaign started, I was asked to offer an oddball prediction and mine was that the Pittsburgh Penguins would miss the playoffs this season. Through 11 games, Pittsburgh is 6-5-0, so the idea that the squad might end up missing the postseason is still very much on the table, but there is cause for some optimism.
My biggest concern for them is if they had enough offensive weapons without Phil Kessel and so far the answer has been yes. Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, and Patric Hornqvist have been great. The rest of their forwards haven’t particularly stood out offensively, but Pittsburgh still has a 3.27 goals per game rate, so maybe being a particularly top-heavy squad will prove to be good enough for them.
Also, I have to of course mention that Evgeni Malkin has only played in two games this season and remains sidelined with a lower-body injury. Malkin missing part of the season is unfortunately par for the course – he’s only played over 70 games once in his last six campaigns – so the Penguins needed to factor in this eventuality when planning for the season, but maybe this season they got his time on the sidelines out of the way early. And the optimism framing is that if the Penguins are 6-5-0 with a strong offense during a stretch where Malkin barely played, imagine how they’ll do once he’s back.
The Penguins don’t look like as good of a team as they were when they won back-to-back championships in 2016-17 and frankly I think they’re a franchise that’s going to continue to trend downwards in the coming years as Crosby, Malkin, and Kris Letang march into their mid-30s, but for now they’re still a threatening team.
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OTTAWA 5 DETROIT 2
Anthony Duclair contributed two goals for Ottawa. He’s up to three goals and points in nine games.
Chris Tierney scored the Senators’ first goal and registered an assist. That gives him three goals and six points in nine contests.
Tyler Bertuzzi accounted for one of the Red Wings’ goals. It was his fourth marker and 10th point in 10 games.
Jonathan Bernier allowed four goals on 37 shots in his third straight loss. He’s 2-3-0 with a 3.23 GAA and .902 save percentage in five starts.
Anders Nilsson stopped 34 of 36 Red Wings shots. He improved to 1-2-1 with a 2.73 GAA and .935 save percentage in four starts.
TAMPA BAY 3 PITTSBURGH 2
Victor Hedman netted the game-winning goal in the final minute of play. It was his second goal and eighth point in nine games.
Alex Killorn also found the back of the net for Tampa Bay. He has a goal and five points in nine contests.
Jake Guentzel netted a goal for the Penguins. He’s up to six goals and 11 points in 11 games.
Tristan Jarry stopped 45 of 48 shots last night. He faced a staggering 22 shots in the second period and yet didn’t allow a goal in that frame.
At the other end of the ice, Andrei Vasilevskiy saved 37 of 39 shots. He’s 5-2-0 with a 2.99 GAA and .907 save percentage in seven starts.