The Rink Report: Penguins Heating Up as Season Nears End

Written By Anthony Cugini, Sports Columnist

The Pittsburgh Penguins have won four of their last five games after they took down the Arizona Coyotes 4-1 on Saturday. 

Pittsburgh won mostly thanks to great performances from their stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Crosby scored twice while Malkin scored once in the third period to break the tie and help the Pens run away with the lead. Pens’ winger Kasperi Kapanen scored Pittsburgh’s first goal earlier in the game. Kapanen finally broke his scoreless streak as this was his first goal since Jan. 23.

If the Penguins are going to make a run deep into the playoffs, they’re going to need guys like Kapanen to step up and perform to the best of their abilities. 

Another key to their success may be the play of winger Evan Rodrigues. Rodrigues picked up an assist as the Pens took down the Coyotes. Rodrigues started the season on fire with five points through his first five games. Though Rodrigues has struggled to find that form as he has only six points since Jan. 25. 

With some of Pittsburgh’s forwards struggling, defenseman Mike Matheson has stepped up as he’s scored two goals in the past week. Pittsburgh will be more than happy if Matheson can continue this offensive production throughout the rest of the season. 

Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry has continued to be one of the best goalies in hockey as he saved 20 of the 21 shots he faced on Saturday. Jarry was also crucial in a shootout win over St. Louis as he didn’t allow the Blues to score any of their four shootout attempts.

With the NHL trade deadline approaching, the Penguins have made a couple moves of their own to match those made around the league. Though the Penguins clearly have a strong team, it seemed as though they still may have been a piece or two away from competing with the top teams in the league. 

Pittsburgh made some additions by adding former Winnipeg defenseman Nathan Beaulieu and former Ducks’ winger Rickard Rakell. Beaulieu will serve as defensive depth in case one of the Pens’ blueliners go down with an injury. 

Rakell on the other hand should slot into the lineup for Pittsburgh. Rakell may join Malkin and Heinen on the second line in place of Evan Rodrigues. This would send Rodrigues down to the third line while Kaspari Kapanen would be on the fourth.

The Penguins took on the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday. Before Tuesday’s game, the Blue Jackets had won four of their last five and sat 13 points out of a playoff spot.