Red Wings look to continue win streak against Penguins
PITTSBURGH -- Rested but hardly satisfied with their place in the Eastern Conference standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings meet Saturday afternoon at PPG Paints Arena in their first game coming off a bye week.
Both clubs are below the playoff line as they resume their season, and both felt they were making strides before their mandatory days off.
Pittsburgh (22-19-3) has won two in a row for the first time since a four-game winning streak Nov. 25-Dec. 2.
The Penguins have a three-game losing streak against the Red Wings, including a 4-1 decision New Year's Eve in Detroit.
Both teams held a late-afternoon practice Friday in Pittsburgh.
"Everyone was excited during practice and is excited for this test in front of us," winger Patric Hornqvist said of the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions' push to get back to the playoffs.
The Penguins were without No. 1 goaltender Matt Murray, who will miss Saturday's game. He went home to Ontario because of a family matter.
"His status will be day-to-day at this point," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "We're going to give him as much time as he needs."
Casey DeSmith was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League and is expected to back up fellow rookie Tristan Jarry against the Red Wings.
Detroit (17-17-7) is coming off a 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday, but the Red Wings had won four in a row before that.
"We're optimistic," Red Wings winger Gustav Nyquist said. "We've talked about it the last couple of weeks. We all think that we're a better team at this point this year than we were last year. The lineup is very similar. We've made strides. We're a few points out, but if we keep playing the way we have lately we'll have a good chance."
They are hoping the loss to the Lightning was an anomaly.
"You look at the overall picture here, we've had a really good stretch," Detroit winger Justin Abdelkader said going into the bye week.
"This (loss) will leave a bitter taste in your mouth for sure. When we come back, we've really got to go at it until the All-Star break. We're getting ourselves back into the thick of things. We've still got some work to do, but we've got to continue to play the way we have."
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill agreed that more of the same is the way to go as the team launches the second half of its season Saturday.
"We've just got to stay on it and understand we're going to be in lots of games and we've got to find a way to win them," Blashill said. "We need points for sure -- we need lots of wins -- but we've got to keep doing it right. We're not going to be perfect ... but we've got to play as complete as we can and find a way to win when we come out of this break."
Updated January 13, 2018