New Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson has solid debut
When it comes to Swedes who made the biggest impact in a 6-3 Pittsburgh Penguins victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night, newly acquired defenseman Marcus Pettersson finished a distant second.
But even though he didn’t match the flashy heroics of countryman Patric Hornqvist’s hat tricks, he received plaudits for his Penguins debut all the same.
Playing primarily on the third defense pair with Jack Johnson, Pettersson was a plus-1 in about 14 minutes of ice time. The Penguins were outshot 21-12 while he was on the ice, but the Avalanche didn’t score during that time.
“We really liked his game,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “I thought his gaps were really good. He’s got a long reach. He’s a mobile guy for a guy as big as he is. He plays hard in the battle areas. He’s hard to play against. We really like that aspect of his game. I think he can pass the puck. He made some really good first passes for us. We really liked what we saw with Marcus.”
Pettersson’s arrival, which came in a trade with Anaheim for Daniel Sprong on Monday, gives the Penguins eight healthy, NHL-caliber defensemen, six of whom are left-handed.
This will create a lineup challenge for Sullivan moving forward. Three of lefties — Johnson, Jamie Oleksiak and Juuso Riikola — are comfortable on the right side. On Tuesday night, Riikola was the healthy scratch.
“We’ve got to try to explore those combinations a little bit and figure out what we think is the best for our team,” Sullivan said. “We just thought we’d go with this tonight and see how it went.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.