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Eastern Conference Semi-Final – Game 3 – Series Tied

The Montreal Canadiens will look to take
advantage of home ice as they return home after earning a
split in the first two games against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  The
Canadiens evened up the series last Sunday with a 3-1 victory after the Penguins
drew first blood by winning Game 1 decisively 6-3.  The
Canadiens returned home under similar circumstances in the first round against
Washington, but lost the next two games and were fortunate enough to rally back
from a 3-1 deficit.  You can be sure that the Canadiens would like to avoid
such a situation and turn the series in their favour, with the Bell Centre
patrons icing the 7th man on the rink.  At the other end of the ice, one
must assume that the Penguins will be looking to accomplish at minimum, the
same as the Habs, and earn a split on the road.

Rebounding nicely from a sub-par performance in
Game 1 is Jaroslav Halak,
(5-3,  2.68 GAA, .931 SV%), who by all possible logic, should be in net for
Montreal tonight. Halak made 38 saves en route to the game 2 victory, and
Montreal fans everywhere hope that his performance has begun to plant seeds of
doubt in the heads of the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Former 1st-overall draft
pick, Marc-André Fleury (5-3, 2.80 GAA, .889 SV%) will start in net for the
Penguins, and will need to be better should Halak continue his mastery in goal.  That being said, every Habs’ fan knows that Quebecois
goaltenders save their best performances for trips to Montreal, and in all
likelihood, Fleury’s current stats can be thrown out the window when the puck
drops tonight.

Despite a miserable Game 2, Sidney Crosby (5G, 11A) leads all
postseason scorers in points.  He is followed by the likes of Evgeni
Malkin (4G, 5A), Bill Guerin (3G, 5A) and Sergei Gonchar (1G, 6A).  Malkin
is mired in a 4-game goalless drought, so you can expect both him and Crosby to
enter tonight’s game with something to prove.  Mike Cammalleri (8G, 5A)
ranks 2nd in the NHL for goals and 3rd overall for points.  The other
Canadiens leading the way offensively are Tomas Plekanec (4G, 4A), Scott Gomez
(1G, 7A) and Brian Gionta (4G, 3A).  Of note, rookie PK Subban has recorded
3 points (1G, 2A) after being called up from the AHL 4 games ago, and has been
on the first powerplay unit.

As seen in Games 1 and 2, special teams can quite often
dictate which team emerges victorious.  In the battle of special teams, the
two squads draw even, as Pittsburgh’s powerplay is superior to that of
Montreal’s (31.4% vs. 21.6%), while Montreal’s penalty-killing is better than
that of Pittsburgh (87.5% vs. 69.0%).  Throughout the series, Montreal has
gone 2 for 7 (28.6%) while Pittsburgh has gone 4 for 7 (57.1%) with the man
advantage.  All of Pittsburgh’s powerplay goals came in Game 1 while
Montreal recorded a solitary powerplay goal in both games.

Montreal will be missing Andrei Markov (knee),
Paul Mara (shoulder) while Jaroslav Spacek (illness) will be a game-time decision. 
Jordan Staal (foot) will likely be the only Penguin absent from the line-up
after receiving surgery after Game 1.  Martin hasn’t disclosed his roster
for the game, but expect some line shuffling after Game 2’s 4th line of Andrei
Kostitsyn, Ben Maxwell and Mathieu Darche combined for 3:40 of ice-time and a -3
rating.  Martin will need a functional 4th line to take some minutes from
his over-tasked top lines, and may be forced to re-insert much-maligned Sergei
Kostitsyn and the veteran Glen Metropolit back into the roster.

The game can be seen on RDS, CBC and VERSUS. 
Game time is 7:00pm EST.