After scoring just 11 goals in their first seven games, the Pittsburgh Penguins have shuffled their lines in a fairly major way.
At practice today, Sidney Crosby was skating between Pascal Dupuis and Patric Hornqvist; Evgeni Malkin was centering Phil Kessel and Sergei Plotnikov; and Chris Kunitz (no points in seven games) was dropped to the third line with center Nick Bonino and rookie winger Daniel Sprong.
David Perron (no points in seven games) and Matt Cullen were on the fourth line, with Bobby Farnham, Bryan Rust, and Kevin Porter rotating in.
Crosby has spent the majority of the early season with Kessel and Kunitz, while Malkin has skated mostly with Hornqvist and Perron.
The Penguins fell to 3-4-0 with a 4-1 loss to Dallas last night.
“I thought we came out with a lot of intensity,” coach Mike Johnston told the Associated Press. “We were generating a lot of momentum with shots, but after that I thought we tried to get too cute with the puck and we passed up shots.
“That got us into trouble because Dallas is a transition team and they stung us in transition a couple times.”
On a goals-per-game basis, only Anaheim (1.00) has had more trouble scoring than Pittsburgh (1.57).
The Penguins have two tough road games coming up, Saturday in Nashville and Wednesday in Washington.
Evgeny Kuznetsov racked up his sixth assist of the young season last night in Vancouver, feeding Alex Ovechkin for the game-winner late in the third period.
Afterwards, Capitals coach Barry Trotz couldn’t say enough about the 23-year-old’s growth since last season, when Kuznetsov was still adjusting to life in the NHL.
“It’s not even the same person,” Trotz said. “We always knew he had the skill, but his pro game – his North American game – has really come along. He’s not afraid of the big moments. He’s not afraid of the top players in the league. He wants to be one of the best guys in the game, and I think he can be.”
Kuznetsov has been centering Washington’s top line between Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie. His emergence — in addition to what the Caps already had in Nicklas Backstrom — has given them one of the best 1-2 punches at center in the NHL.
“It gives match-up problems for teams,” said Trotz. “It’s allowed us to bring [Backstrom] back a little slower, not having to go head-to-head (against the opponent’s top players) every night.”
Winners of four straight, the Caps take on the Oilers tonight in Edmonton. After that, they get four days off before hosting Pittsburgh Wednesday (on NBCSN).
Related: Caps have long-term ‘vision’ for Kuznetsov, who they ‘absolutely’ see as a center
The Buffalo Sabres have called up goalie Linus Ullmark from AHL Rochester, and sent down goalie Nathan Lieuwen.
Ullmark is 1-2-0 for the Americans with a .932 save percentage. The 22-year-old Swede could make his NHL debut this weekend, as the Sabres play back-to-back on Friday and Saturday versus Montreal and New Jersey, respectively.
Ullmark had offseason surgery on both hips and was limited in training camp, according to the Buffalo News.
He is a former Swedish goalie of the year (in 2013-14 for Modo), an award that’s been won in the past by Henrik Lundqvist, Jacob Markstrom, and Viktor Fasth.
Bruins forward Zac Rinaldo will not be further disciplined for his hit last night on Philadelphia’s Sean Couturier.
Rinaldo received a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct for the hit, which occurred at the end of the first period.
While the NHL supports the call that was made on the ice, it believes that that was punishment enough, citing four reasons:
- It was not elbowing.
- It was not interference.
- It was not an illegal check to the head.
- It was not charging “for the purposes of supplemental discipline.”
In supporting its fourth reason, the NHL deemed that Rinaldo did “not launch into Couturier in an excessive manner. His body stays low and there is no significant gap between his skates and the ice.”
Couturier did not return for the final two periods. The Flyers said he left with an upper-body injury. He is considered day-to-day.
The Toronto Maple Leafs announced today that defenseman Frank Corrado has been assigned to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies on a conditioning loan.
Corrado, 22, was plucked off waivers from Vancouver earlier this month. He’s yet to make an appearance for the Leafs. He has not suffered an injury, at least not one that’s been reported.
Corrado cannot be sent to the AHL on a regular assignment without being exposed to waivers.
From the CBA:
When asked to clarify how the NHL looks at conditioning loans for players who have not been injured, deputy commissioner Bill Daly told PHT in an email that the Corrado assignment was “compliant with our long-standing interpretation of these provisions and consistent with how we apply the rules to other Clubs.”
The Marlies play Friday at Rochester, Saturday at Binghamton, and Sunday at Lehigh Valley.