Game preview: Penguins @ Canadiens
PENGUINS (15-8-0) @ CANADIENS (12-9-2)
Twenty-four hours after being put to the test in Washington, the Canadiens will be back in action on Saturday night when they play host to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Bell Centre.
On Friday night, the Habs posted a 3-2 victory over the Capitals at the Verizon Center. Michel Therrien's troops scored three times in less than five minutes during the first period, and held on from there to earn their second straight win, and third win in their last four games. Travis Moen, David Desharnais and Daniel Briere all tallied for Montreal, while Peter Budaj turned aside 25 shots to up his record to 4-1-0 on the season. Moen snapped a 47-game scoring drought with his first-period tally, while Desharnais picked up his first goal in 21 games dating back to last season. Josh Gorges, meanwhile, picked up two assists in the win. The Canadiens sit fifth in the Atlantic division with 26 points, four points back of the division-leading Bruins.
The Penguins are coming off a 4-3 victory over the Islanders on Friday night at the Consol Energy Center. Sidney Crosby scored the game-winner with 1:16 remaining in regulation time to lift Pittsburgh to their third straight victory. Crosby`s 12th goal of the season was also the 250th of his NHL career. Pittsburgh netminder Jeff Zatkoff stopped 30 shots for his second career win. Chris Kunitz scored two goals for Dan Bylsma`s squad, while Evgeni Malkin ended his 15-game goal drought with his fourth marker of the season. Pittsburgh now sits atop the Metropolitan division by five points over Washington.
Carey Price will be back between the pipes for the Canadiens on Saturday. He will be making his 19th start of the year, and his 20th career appearance against the Penguins. The three-time All-Star has an 8-8-2 record and a 2.91 career goals-against average against Pittsburgh.
Price will up against Marc-Andre Fleury, who also benefitted from a night off on Friday. Fleury is currently ranked second in the NHL with 13 wins and will look to pick up his third consecutive victory on Saturday night. In his last outing, he stopped 18 shots to pick up his second shutout of the year.
Francis Bouillon will be back in the lineup on Saturday night after missing his first game with the Canadiens on Friday since returning to the team last season. With Alexei Emelin’s return to the lineup last week, Michel Therrien confirmed that he will be giving nights off to certain veteran blue-liners because he now boasts seven healthy defensemen. After taking a shot to the foot in Friday’s game and suffering a contusion, Michael Bournival will take part in the game against the Penguins.
Saturday night’s game will be the only time during the 2013-14 regular season campaign that Habs fans will get to see Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in Montreal. As per usual, both superstars lead the Penguins on offense with 30 and 24 points, respectively. Crosby, meanwhile, also sits atop the league in points, four points clear of Ovechkin, Alexander Steen, Ryan Getzlaf, Henrik Zetterberg and John Tavares.
Dan Bylsma’s squad will try to pick up a fourth consecutive win over the Canadiens. Pittsburgh came out on top in all three meeting between the two clubs in 2012-13, winning the lone tilt of the year at the Bell Centre 7-6 in overtime.
First things first
The Numbers Game – November 22, 2013