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Ducks@Penguins PREVIEW: Back to the Burgh

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NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Anaheim Ducks Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Game 35

Date: Monday, December 17th, 2018

Time: 4:00 PT / 7:00 ET

Location: American Airlines Center

TV: Fox Sports Prime

Radio: AM830

Your Enemy: Pensburgh


After an overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets this past Saturday, the Anaheim Ducks are headed over to Pittsburgh to face Sidney Crosby and company in PPG Paints Arena.

The Ducks are feeling pretty good after winning the past eight out of nine games, and currently posting a three-game streak. The wins may not have been pretty, but a win is a win, and the Ducks are finding different ways to do so.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are also doing some winning of their own. After claiming victory over the Boston Bruins on Friday, the Pens finished off the back-to-back set with an overtime win of their own against the Los Angeles Kings Saturday night.

Keys to the Game

Top Lines

The Pens’ top line consisting of Sidney Crosby-Jake Guentzel-Dominik Simon is one of NHL’s top producing lines. You can expect this Pens’ top line to possess the majority of the attempts in ice. Sidney Crosby just makes his teammates look better while making his opponents look worse. Similar situation to when they played Dallas, it will be crucial for the Ducks to figure out how to neutralize this top line early in the game.

On the other side, the Ducks are also seeing (sporadic) surges of offense as of late. We’re seeing it up and down the line-up in various spurts, particularly led by the Ducks’ top line of Pontus Aberg-Ryan Getzlaf-Ondrej Kase. Considering that the last game in Columbus saw a downturn in SOG and goals from Anaheim, the Ducks will need to figure out how to get those numbers back up to the levels of the two prior home games against New Jersey and Dallas by seeing a quick transition through the neutral zone and strong forecheck down all the forward lines.

Goaltending

We all know that goaltending has been absolutely key to the Ducks’ success this season. I mean, the numbers tell all. Anaheim is dead last in league for shots for/games played this season. Not only that, when looking at SAT%, the Ducks are 27th in the league (45.27% SAT). I’m not finished. The Ducks are second in the league when it comes to shots against per games played. In summary, the fact that Anaheim is currently sitting in third in the Pacific is largely in thanks to John Gibson standing on his head night after night. We can expect high fire power from the Penguins, which means Gibby will need to be at his best during his return to his hometown.

Matt Murray is now healthy and has returned to the Pens’ lineup, but Casey DeSmith will start against the Ducks tonight. He’s carried the load of season thus far, having extremely hot moments and not-so-hot moments. In 22 games, he has posted a .923 SV% and 2.46 GAA. With inconsistent defensive showings from the Pens, they will also rely on DeSmith heavily to cover any lapses in play.

Facing Former Teams

Daniel Sprong will face his former team for the first time since being acquired by Anaheim two weeks ago. Sprong has since scored three goals while also scoring his first career shootout attempt which was recorded as the game-deciding goal. Conversely, Marcus Pettersson will also face his former team for the first time since being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Pettersson has since played in seven games with the Pens, earning a +3 rating and an average of 15:26 TOI.