The Montreal Canadiens will look for stability tonight when they take on Sidney Crosby and friends in Pittsburgh. Montreal is coming off a 3-1 win against the Ottawa Senators. The win required a complete team effort, and finally Carbonneau was able to oversee his team play a full 60 minutes, something they have failed to accomplish on so many occasions during the team’s recent slump.
The Habs have won three of their last four games and will look continue their winning ways tonight. With the Ottawa Senators winning against the Washington Capitals last night, Montreal was knocked down into 5th spot but still hold two games-in-hand on the Senators. If Montreal wants to regain it’s stranglehold on the 4th spot, they will need to start tonight. This isn’t much time for rest over the next few days as the Habs will play 3 games in the next 4 nights.
Swiss native David Aebischer will get his second straight start in goal for the Montreal Canadiens. Apart from the early goal he gave up, Aebischer played quite well against the Senators on Monday, stopping 26 of the 27 shots he faced. The move to play him could be seen in a number of ways. The obvious choice would be that Carbonneau wants to give Cristobal Huet some time to work with goaltender coach Rollie Melanson in order to get his game back to where it was earlier in the season. Though, one may also derive that playing Aebischer will give the Habs a chance to show case his talent heading towards the trade deadline.
The Penguins have won four straight and have not lost a game in regulation since January 10th, a 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers. Having picked up 13 of a possible 14 points in their last 7 games, the Penguins look to gain some ground on the Canadiens tonight, and again on Sunday afternoon in Montreal.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, who currently sit in 7th place in the Eastern Conference, have the luxury of holding 2 games in hand of the Montreal Canadiens, as well as 2 or more on several other teams currently hunting for a playoff spot. This is a team that will likely show up ready to play, not like the easy opponent they were over the past few seasons.
If the Penguins were to win the 2 games they currently hold in hand, they would be within a single point of the Habs in the standings. Thus, this is a very important game for the Canadiens to win if they wish to keep a distance from the rising powers of the east such as Pittsburgh.
Mr. 500: Former Habs’ player Mark Recchi scored his 500th goal a few days ago in a game against the Dallas Stars. In doing so, Recchi became the 38th player in NHL history to reach the milestone. Eight of Recchi’s 500 goals came against the Montreal Canadiens; he also has 30 points in 40 games throughout his career against the Habs.
Tough Slump: Christopher Higgins has not been the same player since the ankle injury he suffered in early November. He has been held pointless in his last 6 outings and posted a -4 plus/minus during that span. His last goal came against the Ottawa Senators during their 8-3 trouncing of the Habs back on January 13th.
Leading the Way: Sidney Crosby has a firm grasp on the NHL point race. The 19-year-old has 79 points, including 25 goals, in 46 games-played this season. Not only will the Habs have their hands full with him, but they also have to make sure that Evgeni Malkin doesn’t get too much room. Malkin currently leads all rookies with 53 points in 45 games.