Penguins visit Canadiens to finish off road swing
Monday, 02.06.2012 / 3:38 PM
Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior WriterPENGUINS (30-19-4) at CANADIENS (20-24-9)
TV: RDS (HD), ROOT (HD), TSN-HABS (HD)
Pittsburgh 8-2-0; Montreal 4-4-2
This is the fourth and final meeting between the clubs this season. The Penguins have won all three so far, but just once in regulation. They beat the Habs, 3-1, on Oct. 20 at Consol Energy Center. Pittsburgh won 4-3 in overtime on Nov. 26 in Montreal and 5-4 in a shootout on Jan. 20 in Pittsburgh. The Canadiens let two-goal leads slip away in the latter two games.
The Canadiens will be trying to salvage some points out of the season series with the Penguins while also attempting to climb back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Penguins just want to erase the memory of Sunday's 5-2 loss at New Jersey with a strong showing in the final game of a four-game road trip.
Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to get the start. He won nine starts in a row prior to Sunday, when he was pulled 2:28 into the second period after giving up his third goal on 12 shots. Fleury has played in all three games against the Canadiens this season. However, he has just a 3.36 goals-against average at Bell Centre.
Tyler Kennedy returned to Pittsburgh after suffering a lower-body injury in Sunday's loss to the Devils. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said Monday from Montreal that Kennedy is being evaluated and more will be known within the next day or two.
Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal and Simon Despres all participated in practice on Monday in Montreal, but none are ready to play as of yet. Crosby said he's still experiencing concussion-like symptoms, but it was his first practice with the team. Bylsma said Staal and Despres are still at least a week to 10 days away from returning from their respective knee injuries.
"It's my first practice back with the team and the guys were skating pretty fast," Staal said according to the Penguins website. "It makes you want to catch up pretty fast. It takes a little while to get that under your belt. I'm not far, I think. It's feeling really good. It's mostly mental. The knee feels strong, but we'll find a game hopefully soon enough."
Trade rumors are starting to swirl around the Canadiens. The latest has injured forward Travis Moen
linked with San Jose.
Moen, who won a Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007, has been on injured reserve with an upper-body injury since Jan. 21, but the Montreal Gazette speculated Monday that he could return for Tuesday's game against Pittsburgh. The Canadiens did not practice Monday, but made some roster moves by sending Aaron Palushaj
and Ryan White
to Hamilton of the AHL.
The Canadiens played one of their better games in a long time Sunday as they blanked the Jets, 3-0. Carey Price
made 23 saves for his third shutout of the season.
Montreal forward Max Pacioretty
is not a point-per-game player this season (38 points in 50 games), but he has been of late. Pacioretty has 7 goals and 3 assists and a plus-3 rating over the last 10 games. … Evgeni Malkin scored for the second straight game on Sunday and now has 29 for the season. He leads the NHL with 61 points.
The Penguins will be without Kennedy, Crosby, Staal and Despres. … Moen is questionable for the Canadiens.
The Penguins have won all three games against Montreal this season, but Canadiens forward Erik Cole
is the leading scorer in the season series with 4 points.
Montreal is 14th in the Eastern Conference and there are rumors about players getting ready to be traded out of town, but the Canadiens are not giving up hope of securing a playoff berth with 29 games to play and 11 points to make up.
"There are a lot of games to go and there's a lot of character in this room," center Tomas Plekanec
said. "I'm sure we'll do our best and we'll win some games and get back into the picture and get somewhere where we know we can still make it."