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Sharks vs. Penguins Preview: Time for the one you’ve all been waiting for

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Back in Pittsburgh for the first time since ... you know.

2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

I circled this one on the Sharks’ schedule the day the NHL released it. Now, with four games under their belts, San Jose gets a chance to measure itself against an admittedly banged up Pittsburgh team that tries to get by without Sidney Crosby and Matt Murray.

The Sharks are 2-1-0 on the five-game road swing and will wrap up their trip in Detroit on Saturday. A win against the Penguins clinches a winning record on this trip, which would be a pretty nice feather in San Jose’s cap

Game 1
at
Thursday, Oct. 20, 4 p.m. PT
PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Get the Pittsburgh perspective at Pensburgh
How to Watch / Listen In San Jose
Stats and Figures
3-1-0 Record 2-1-1
T-1st in Pacific Standings T-1st in Metropolitan
55.14% Even Strength, Score-Adj. Fenwick 50.25%
100.86 PDO 96.63
23.1 PP% 22.2
62.5 PK% 77.8

in the early portion of this season.

Given the Penguins’ injuries and the Sharks’ improved roster, I like San Jose’s chances in this one. The team boasts a much deeper blue line, thanks to the addition of David Schlemko, and the bottom six has played reasonably well despite not scoring much.

While the Sharks’ penalty kill has been anything but excellent through the first four games, the absence of Crosby should give San Jose a reasonably easier assignment tonight. Pittsburgh remains effective on the penalty kill, though, so don’t expect anything to come easy if/when the Sharks get a skater-advantage.

Nick Bonino - Carl Hagelin - Phil Kessel has made up the Penguins top line this season, which bodes well for the Sharks if for no other reason than giving a (slightly) lighter challenge to the team’s excellent second line. The Couture line has been incredible so far this season and, assuming it sees time against Evgeni Malkin and company, will be challenged, but not more than it can handle.

Expect Martin Jones to get back between the pipes as Aaron Dell got the start against the Islanders on Tuesday. Jones (.923) will likely be opposed by Marc-Andre Fleury, who has posted an impressive .933 this season.

Puck drop is at 4 p.m. PT — so come up with your excuse to leave work early now.

Game 1
at
Thursday, Oct. 20, 4 p.m. PT
PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Get the Pittsburgh perspective at Pensburgh
How to Watch / Listen In San Jose
csn bay area logo the game
Stats and Figures
3-1-0 Record 2-1-1
T-1st in Pacific Standings T-1st in Metropolitan
55.14% Even Strength, Score-Adj. Fenwick 50.25%
100.86 PDO 96.63
23.1 PP% 22.2
62.5 PK% 77.8