PHOTO CREDITS: (Michael Dwyer/Associated Press)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

For the second time this season, the Boston Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins will battle it out in a Friday night game.

Coming off of three wins in a row over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, and most recently, the Arizona Coyotes, the Bruins will be looking to continue that momentum Friday in Pittsburgh. In each of the three outings, the Bruins have had their moments where it seems another loss is on it’s way, but the injury-filled roster manages to battle back and steal a win.

The 2018-19 season has not been what the Pittsburgh Penguins have been used to over the past few years. The team’s record sits at 13-11-6, good for fourth in the Metropolitan Division, tied with the New York Islanders who have the third spot. Most recently, the Penguins took a hard loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, who have been equally struggling as we near the end of the 2018 calendar year, 6-3 the final score.

Starting Goaltenders:

PIT: Casey DeSmith: 9-5-4 2.43 GAA .921 SV% Last Game: 23 Saves in 6-3 Loss vs CHI

BOS: Jaroslav Halak: 9-4-2 2.30 GAA .930 SV% Last Game: 29 Saves in 6-3 Win vs TOR

Who’s Hot

David Pastrnak has been and continues to be Boston’s best player on the ice night in and night out. In 31 games this season, Pastrnak has 21-17-38 totals, 16 of those points coming on the power-play. Heading into Friday’s game, Pastrnak is riding a four-game point streak including a three-point night (1 goal, 2 assists) against the Coyotes on Tuesday night.

After an extended amount of time off the score sheet, Brad Marchand now has finished three consecutive games with more than a point, scoring three points against both the Maple Leafs and Coyotes. The recent rebirth of Marchand’s point production has raised his totals to 10-22-32 in 31 games so far this season.

Boston’s new third-line of Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Ryan Donato, and Danton Heinen have found recent success together after all three struggled to begin the ’18/’19 campaign. The three worked together to score the first goal for the Bruins against Arizona, kick-starting the comeback when the Bruins were down 2-0 after the first period. In the past three games, the trio has four goals and three assists for seven points.

Scoring for the Penguins has been dry as of late, even from their big offensive stars such as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but forward Bryan Rust is coming off of his second-career NHL hat-trick against the Blackhawks, scoring the only three goals by Pittsburgh. It brings his totals to 4-6-10 in 30 games, but any sort of offence can help the Penguins moving forward as they try to climb higher in the standings.

Who’s Not

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have been oddly quiet for Pittsburgh as of late, considering both superstars had great starts to their respective seasons. In the past three games, both players have failed to tally a single point. Against Chicago, Malkin was a -4 rating and Crosby was a -3 rating. The Pens need support from them, especially against Boston if they want to walk away with two points.

Casey DeSmith has had a decent run with the Penguins so far this year, but he had a poor outing against the Blackhawks on Wednesday night. Casey allowed four goals on twenty-seven shots, finishing the night with a .852 save percentage. He has not had a terrible season, but having him play well vs Boston tonight could mean a lot to the Penguins.

Bruins vs Penguins Outlook

In their last meeting on November 23rd saw a win for the Bruins in overtime, 2-1 the final score. Jaro Halak was the goaltender in net for that game as well, making 36 saves in the victory. Jake DeBrusk scored his ninth goal of the season assisted by Krejci and Kevan Miller, while Joakim Nordstrom scored the game-winning goal in the overtime session to give Boston the extra point.

Boston managed to shut down Pittsburgh’s offence and if they can do it again tonight, then they will have a good chance to defeat the Pens. This will not be the first time that DeSmith has been in between the pipes against Boston, but it will be the first time that he is named the starter for a Boston game. His previous experience vs the B’s, back on March 1st, 2018, was in an 8-5 loss. The Bruins managed to chase Tristan Jarry, but DeSmith allowed three goals on five shots. The Bruins will be looking to make DeSmith hate playing against the them with more goals scored on him tonight.

Boston Head Coach Bruce Cassidy announced that Sean Kuraly and Noel Acciari will be back in the lineup and on the fourth line. Kuraly is coming off of a minor nose procedure and will most likely dawn the face mask. Jake DeBrusk remains out of the lineup for concussion protocol. Boston’s top-line of Marchand, Krejci, and Pastrnak have scored a combined twenty points in the past three games and they will need to be on top of their game to take down the Penguins.

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