Game 34 Preview: Canadiens Vs. Penguins
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Penguins will be looking to extend their winning streak to 13 games tonight, when they host the Montreal Canadiens at CONSOL Energy Center.
Tonight’s game will be another tough test against one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
Montreal (20-6-5-45 points) enters the game tied for the Northeast Division lead with the Boston Bruins. They are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, but are 1-1-1 in their last three.
In their most recent game, Montreal came up just short against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. Thomas Vanek’s two goals in the second period proved to be enough as the Sabres held on for a 2-1 win.
Max Pacioretty leads the team with 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists), while Tomas Plekanec leads the team with 12 goals.
In goal, Carey Price (16-5-4, 2.32 GAA, .911 save percentage) has been solid after back-to-back shaky starts at the beginning of March. In his last seven starts, Price has not allowed more than three goals and is 5-1-1.
Against the Penguins, Price is 8-6-2 with a 2.96 GAA and .909 save percentage. In his last start against the Pens on March 2, Price allowed seven goals on 36 shots in a 7-6 overtime loss.
For Pittsburgh, General Manager Ray Shero has been a busy man over the last few days.
On Sunday, the Penguins acquired Brenden Morrow and a third-round draft pick from the Dallas Stars for defensive prospect Joe Morrow and a fifth-round draft pick.
However, Shero wasn’t done and on Monday, he pulled the trigger on a trade to bring defenseman Douglas Murray to Pittsburgh in exchange for two second-round draft picks. The second of those picks is conditional on the Penguins winning two rounds in the playoffs, or resigning the big defenseman. If neither of those things happen, the pick would become a third-rounder.
To me, the moves signify a couple of things. First, Shero is definitely in a “win now” mentality. Second, Shero recognizes that the teams he’s taken into the playoffs over the past couple seasons were not built for playoff hockey.
It’s no secret that the intensity picks up in the playoffs and the games become much more physical. Morrow and Murray bring an aspect of physicality that has been lacking on this team and I’m all for it.
Morrow is expected to be in the lineup tonight against Montreal, but Murray will not.
It is also unknown if Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang will return to the lineup tonight either. Dan Bylsma should have an update on their status following the team’s morning skate.
Sidney Crosby continues to lead the team with 53 points (14 goals, 39 assists) and holds a 12-point edge over Chris Kunitz and Steven Stamkos in the NHL scoring race.
Kunitz leads the team with 19 goals, while James Neal is right behind him with 17.
In goal, Marc-Andre Fleury (17-5-0, 2.31 GAA, .914 save percentage) is riding his own personal six-game winning streak and has allowed two or fewer goals in each of his last five starts.
Against the Canadiens, Fleury is 13-8-2 with a 3.25 GAA and .889 save percentage.
The puck is set to drop at 7 p.m. and you can watch the game on Root Sports.
You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sheavedice