Penguins look to continue winning without stars

Penguins celebrate after a second period goal by left wing Drew O Connor
Penguins celebrate after a second period goal by left wing Drew O Connor Photo credit © Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Penguins will still be shorthanded when they go for their second early-season win over Tampa Bay, this time at PPG Paint Arena.

Mike Sullivan says that although Sid Crosby has started skating with the team, and was on the ice in the morning, he will not play tonight. Furthermore, Kris Letang is showing Covid symptoms and will be out longer term and even though Jeff Carter is asymptomatic he is not expected to clear the protocol until later this week.

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Meanwhile, maybe the Pens will continue to score goals, anyway. It’s never much of a surprise when they are among the highest scoring teams in the NHL. But it is a surprise that they’re doing it without so many high-profile players.

Despite the absence of four likely Hall of Famers – Crosby, Malkin, Carter and Letang – plus Bryan Rust, the Penguins put up 7 goals against Toronto and have scored 23 goals in 5 games. With 25 goals in 5 games, only St. Louis is scoring at a higher pace.

What’s different, though, the Pens don’t really have one or two prolific goal-scorers. Danton Heinen, Evan Rodrigues and Drew O’Conner have 3 goals. 26 players on other teams have more. However, the Penguins have 14 different players who have scored at least once; the next closest teams have 12.

Really, the only Pittsburgh forward without a goal that you might expect to have one by now is Kasperi Kapanen but Mike Sullivan figures it’s only a matter of time. “I think it is,” he says, “he has good offensive instincts, he’s had a number of chances, the puck just hasn’t gone in yet.”

“We’re more concerned when players don’t get chances,” Sullivan continues, “then we try to be very proactive to try to help players figure out why. We’re confident he’s going to score.”

Kapanen does have 4 assists. The other forwards without a goal are Sam Lafferty and Zach Aston-Reese who have only played three games; Aston-Reese missed two games due to Covid.

Sullivan says Tristan Jarry will start in goal. Face-off just after 7:00.