The Penguins just had a four game winning streak snapped on Wednesday, in Colorado of all places, as they started a four game Western Conference road trip. Evgeni Malkin scored in the 3-1 defeat and former Duck Ben Lovejoy played 19:27 of ice time on the second D pairing with Derrick Pouliot. That game also ended a four game point scoring (1G-5A-6P) streak for Sidney Crosby.
James Wisniewski (foot), Sami Vatanen (lower body), Matt Beleskey (shoulder), Tim Jackman (lower body) and Korbinian Holzer (concussion) are all still out for tonight. It was announced Wednesday that Jackman will be out 4-6 weeks. Sami and Beleskey have both been skating for a few days, trying to get back into the lineup, but no change has been made to their status. Wiz and Holzer both joined the team on Wednesday, but there is no timetable on Holzer's return (to Norfolk, hopefully) while Wiz is still eyeing a return sometime during next week's three game road trip.
On the Penguins' injury front, Pascal Dupuis has not played since November, and is still out indefinitely, due to blood clotting in his lungs and defenseman Olli Matta is out for the season with a shoulder injury. On a more short term level, Rob Scuderi missed their last game because he was sick, and is listed as day to day. Also day to day is Christian Ehrhoff who played one game in the Penguins' last 14 and recently had a set back with his concussion like symptoms.
What Can We Learn From This Game:
At the risk of the magumbo, I think we can officially say that the Ducks have pulled out of their February tailspin. During this current four game winning streak, the only concerning performance was against Dallas. Other than that, the Ducks are not only winning games but also playing much better in order to do so, rather than hanging in and lucking out as they were toward the end of last month.
Tonight, they face a team lower in the standings, but MUCH better in possession than Montreal was. The Ducks had success, even though they were out possessed in the end, against the Kings last week. Pittsburgh isn't quite LA in terms of possession, ninth in league SA% 5v5 (CF%), but are still significantly ahead of the Ducks (18th). We'll see if Bruce Boudreau can replicate that performance against the Kings by deploying his charges efficiently.
Kris Letang currently is in a three way tie for the league lead in points by a defenseman with two players the Ducks have seen recently, Erik Karlsson and P.K. Subban. Despite the different results and performances from the Ducks, they were able to keep both Karlsson and Subban off the scoresheet. Keeping another potential Norris Trophy candidate scoreless would go a long way toward getting the Ducks their fifth straight win tonight.
Ben Lovejoy will not score, but will say some pretty sweet stuff post game.