Pittsburgh Penguins (26-14-4) at Montreal Canadiens (24-16-3) – January
Less than a week since they last met, the Montreal Canadiens face the
Pittsburgh Penguins, having emerged victors in a 2-1 shootout win last Thursday.
The Canadiens have won both games in the season series thus far, but all games
have been close and have been decided by a single goal. Montreal won
another tightly-contested match last night in New York, with Benoit Pouliot
scoring the winning goal in a 2-1 win over the Rangers. The Penguins
haven’t played since Monday, when they squandered a 2-0 lead in the 3rd period
to lose 4-2 to the Boston Bruins. The Penguins have lost 3 games in a row
since losing Sidney Crosby to injury and are 4-4-2 in their last 3 games.
Conversely, Montreal has won 3 games in a row and are 5-4-1 over that same
Carey Price (21-14-3, 2.31 GAA, .921 SV%) earned a rare night off last night,
but will be back in the net tonight. Price is a career 6-4-0 against the
Penguins, with a 2.67 goals-against average and .916 save percentage.
Quebec-native Marc-Andre Fleury (18-11-2, 2.31 GAA, .919 SV%) will oppose Price
at the other end of the ice. Both goaltenders were announced as
participants in the 2011 All-Star Game yesterday; the pair may be teammates or
opponents depending on how they are drafted.
Despite having only marking 5 points in the last 10 games, Tomas Plekanec
(12-21-33) remains the Canadiens’ top scorer. He is followed closely by
Mike Cammalleri (12-15-28) and James Wisniewski (5-23-28) while Brian Gionta
(15-9-24) leads the Canadiens in goals scored. If you include the
game-winning shootout winner, Benoit Pouliot (9-10-19) has scored 3 goals in the
last 3 games, and has been one of Montreal’s better players in that time.
Although he remains sidelined with a mild concussion, Sidney Crosby (32-34-66)
leads the Penguins and the NHL in goals and points. Kris Letang’s
(7-30-37) breakout season continues, while Evgeni Malkin (15-20-35) may finish
with less than a point per game for the the first time this year. Jordan
Staal has yet to record a point in the 5 games since returning from his
Montreal’s powerplay has flourished since the acquisition of Wisniewski, and
their 18.9% efficiency ranks better that of the Penguins (16.7%). The
Canadiens (87.9%) and Penguins (87.2%) sit first and second in the NHL in
penalty-killing efficiency. This last fact might explain why there hasn’t
been a goal scored with the man-advantage in the previous two games between
these two teams.
Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges are out for the season with knee injuries,
while Mike Cammalleri is questionable for tonight’s game with an illness.
Alex Picard will likely serve as a healthy scratch. As previously
mentioned, Sidney Crosby is out indefinitely with a concussion, while Mike
Comrie (hip), Eric Godard (nose), Alex Grant (wrist/neck) and Casey
Pierro-Zabotel (finger) are all out. Arron Asham is fighting an illness,
and is questionable for tonight’s match.
The game begins at 7:30 EST and can be seen on TSN and RDS.
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