NHL Hockey

Final 1 2 3 Tot
Anaheim 0 0 0 0
Pittsburgh 1 0 0 1
4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST4:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ET22:00 BRT, December 11, 2021
PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania  Attendance: 17,435

Penguins wrap back-to-back by hosting surging Ducks

Anaheim Ducks at Pittsburgh Penguins

  1. The Penguins and Ducks have not met since February 2020 when Anaheim defeated Pittsburgh, 3-2, at home. The two meetings that season (also a 2-1 Penguins home win) saw a combined 68 penalty minutes and 20 power-play opportunities.
  2. The Ducks downed the Blue Jackets, in a shootout after overtime ended 1-1, in Columbus on Thursday. Anaheim has earned four points in its past two games despite scoring a total of three goals (2-0 versus at Buffalo on Tuesday). The Ducks had not won back-to-back games while scoring two goals or fewer in each since February 2018.
  3. Isac Lundestrom lit the lamp against Columbus, his seventh goal of the season and fourth in his last eight skates. Lundestrom, who has played 99 career NHL games, had scored six total goals in 71 games played entering this season.
  4. With Anthony Stolarz (2.42 GAA in 421 minutes) and John Gibson (2.60 GAA in 1293 minutes), Anaheim is one of three teams who have two goalies with 400+ minutes played this season and a GAA of 2.60 or lower (also Calgary and Washington).

The Anaheim Ducks, who face the Penguins Saturday in Pittsburgh, are surging.

The Ducks have won two straight and are on a 4-0-2 run, despite playing without injured captain Ryan Getzlaf.

While Pittsburgh played in Washington Friday, the Ducks got to relax after they won 2-1 in a shootout Thursday against the Blue Jackets in Columbus.

"We're playing for each other," Anaheim goaltender John Gibson said. "We're having fun. I think that's what it's all about. You want to have fun. You want to win. You want to have success. We seem to be finding ways to do that."

Gibson, who grew up in the Pittsburgh area, has been a key to the Ducks' success. He has earned 11 wins thus far, and his 2.60 goals-against average and .917 save percentage are near his career bests.

According to coach Dallas Eakins, Gibson was pivotal in Anaheim's win Thursday, with 33 saves through regulation and overtime.

"It's been rare that where we've had more than two guys having an off night," Eakins said. "(Thursday), we had seven or eight. When that's happening, that puts a lot of pressure on our goaltender. But, thankfully, we have a world-class one in Gibby. That was just an unbelievable performance."

Saturday marks the first meeting of the season between the Ducks and Penguins, who did not face each other last season with a modified NHL schedule because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pittsburgh won its third straight Friday in Washington, 4-2, playing its first game since it was announced that the team's leading scorer, top-line winger Jake Guentzel, would be out on a week-to-week basis because of what is believed to be a hand injury.

In what could be a relief and a confidence booster, Kasperi Kapanen scored Friday after being elevated to the top line in Guentzel's absence, joining Sidney Crosby and Evan Rodrigues.

Kapanen has struggled much of the season, but he scored what turned out to be the deciding goal against the Capitals. He was set up by his new linemates.

Playing with Crosby, Kapanen said, "is pretty awesome, to be honest. I thought our whole line clicked."

The game Saturday is the first for Pittsburgh in a stretch of five of six at home.

Backup goaltender Casey DeSmith seems likely to start Saturday after Tristan Jarry played Friday at Washington.

It would be just DeSmith's sixth start and appearance, in part because he has struggled and also because Jarry has played at a high level.

DeSmith's most recent start, Monday at Seattle, was one that proved memorable -- not because it came in Pittsburgh's first game against the expansion Kraken but because it was DeSmith's first win of the season. He stopped 28 of 29 shots for by far his best game, a 6-1 Penguins victory.

"Mentally, that was big, for me to go out there and get a solid win," said DeSmith, who benefitted from an early 3-0 lead. "Kudos to everyone for making it easy on me and getting my confidence going in the right direction."

Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang is one point shy of 600 for his career.

--Field Level Media

Updated December 11, 2021

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