Preview: Pittsburgh at Montreal
When: 7:00 PM ET, Saturday, January 9, 2016
Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec
After dropping a home-and-home series, the Pittsburgh Penguins attempt to get back on the winning track on Saturday when they visit the Montreal Canadiens. The Bell Centre has been a safe haven for the Penguins, who have won two straight there and own a 5-1-1 mark in their last seven visits.
Quebec native Marc-Andre Fleury has made himself at home in Montreal, stopping 54-of-55 shots to post a 2-0-0 mark last season and is 6-1-1 with a 1.78 goals-against average and .933 save percentage in his last eight starts at the Bell Centre. Rookie Mike Condon will attempt to win his fourth straight start for the Canadiens, who opened a three-game homestand with a 2-1 victory over New Jersey on Wednesday. “It’s time for us to play the right way for a couple of games in a row now. It hasn’t been the case as of late,” captain Max Pacioretty said. “We played a good, strong game last game and we’ve got to build off that and play the right way against Pittsburgh.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ROOT (Pittsburgh), CBC, TVA (Montreal)
ABOUT THE PENGUINS (19-16-5): Captain Sidney Crosby collected six goals and six assists during an eight-game stretch before he was held off the scoresheet in a 3-1 setback to the Blackhawks on Wednesday. The two-time Hart Trophy winner notched a pair of assists in Pittsburgh’s 4-3 win over Montreal on Nov. 11 and has 40 points (17 goals, 23 assists) in 30 career contests against the Canadiens. Pittsburgh’s special teams play has been downright stellar, as it is 10-for-28 (35.7 percent) on the power play in the last nine games while thwarting all 20 short-handed situations in the last eight.
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (23-16-3): Reigning Hart and Vezina Trophy winner Carey Price isn’t expected to return to the lineup until February, coach Michel Therrien told reporters on Friday. “It would surprise us if he was back before the All-Star Game (Jan. 31),” Therrien said. “We said it would be a minimum of six weeks – a long-term absence. … We have to follow the rehabilitation process and they tell me it’s going well.” Montreal has struggled to tread water in his absence, posting a 6-12-1 mark to fall out of first place in the Atlantic Division.
1. Pittsburgh C Evgeni Malkin has two goals and six assists during a five-game point streak in Montreal.
2. Canadiens’ Greg Pateryn will draw into the lineup in place of fellow D Jeff Petry, who is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
3. Penguins D Kris Letang has scored three goals and set up six others during his four-game point streak.
PREDICTION: Penguins 3, Canadiens 2