|4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET23:00 GMT7:00 4:00 PM MST6:00 PM EST3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ET20:00 BRT, October 19, 2019
PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Attendance: 18,610
Penguins look to continue winning ways vs. Golden Knights
Vegas Golden Knights at Pittsburgh Penguins
- The Golden Knights and Penguins have split their four matchups with the home team winning each game. Phil Kessel scored a hat trick in their last matchup in Pittsburgh on October 11, 2018, leading the Pens to a 4-2 win.
- Vegas won in a shootout against Ottawa on Thursday, 3-2, putting up a franchise record 54 shots on goal. The Knights are averaging 34.5 shots on goal per game since 2018-19, tied with the Hurricanes for most in the NHL.
- Reilly Smith scored a goal against the Senators, his third straight game with a goal and sixth goal in eight games this season. It took him 32 games to score his sixth goal last season on December 9.
- The Penguins are 7-4-1 in the second game of a back-to-back since 2018-19, tied for the fourth-best record in the league. The Golden Knights are 11-3-1 since last season when their opponent is in the second game of a back-to-back, sixth-best record in the NHL.
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The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to extend the NHL's longest active win streak Saturday when they take on the visiting Vegas Golden Knights.
The Penguins, who will be playing on back-to-back nights at home, picked up their fifth straight win Friday, 4-2 against Dallas. They have outscored opponents 23-11 during the streak.
"We're trying to establish an identity for our team. I think that's what we're starting to build on," said Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang, who had two goals Friday and has 10 points.
That can be interpreted as the Penguins finding consistency and a high level of play regardless of who is -- and isn't -- in the lineup.
Pittsburgh is winning without key forwards Evgeni Malkin, Nick Bjugstad, Alex Galchenyuk and Bryan Rust, who are hurt, but have jelled to play a solid two-way game and have received production from some young call-ups.
They won Friday despite getting no points from team captain Sidney Crosby, who leads the team with 12 points and previously had at least one point in every game.
"We're playing really good hockey," said Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist, who had a goal and two assists against Dallas. "We're all supporting each other all over the ice and playing for each other, and it's a great feeling right now."
The Golden Knights have noticed the Penguins' plight and pluck.
"They've got some injuries. They're playing desperate hockey," Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. "They're really competing. And, obviously, when you've got a guy like Crosby, he rallies that team, so they're playing real hard."
Vegas, which is opening a three-game road trip, has won three of its past four games, including Thursday's 3-2 shootout win over Ottawa at home.
In those four games, opponents have had at least 35 shots each night, including a season-high 39 by Ottawa.
"I'm not too happy with that, obviously," Gallant said. "We're just giving up too much. We've got to clean up our defensive game and play better."
The Golden Knights figure they aren't being fair to their goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury.
"He's standing on his head, and we're not really helping him. (Having Fleury) is a gift," forward Jonathan Marchessault told the Las Vegas Sun.
It doesn't seem likely that there will be a matchup of Fleury against Pittsburgh's Matt Murray. Fleury was the Penguins' longtime and popular franchise goalie, but Pittsburgh had to make a choice and maneuvered to let the Golden Knights select him in the 2017 expansion draft, handing the reins to the younger Murray.
However, Murray played Friday night, making it probable that backup Tristan Jarry will face Vegas.
Fleury is having a typical strong start, going 5-2 with a .926 save percentage and 2.46 goals-against average. He has played every game with backup Malcolm Subban injured.
"He's unbelievable," Gallant said. "He battles. He competes. That's what he does. He's our hardest worker, and he does it every night for us. He's outstanding. ... He's a character guy."
Jarry has played just once this season, a 7-2 win on Sunday at Winnipeg.
Vegas will be playing its second game without Valentin Zykov, who received a 20-game suspension for use of a performance enhancing substance.
--Field Level Media
Updated October 18, 2019