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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, February 19th (All times eastern)

Montreal Canadiens (30-21-7) at Pittsburgh Penguins (27-25-6), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Pittsburgh Penguins will try again to get their first win under interim head coach Dan Bylsma when they host the struggling Montreal Canadiens tonight at Mellon Arena.

The Penguins fired head coach Michel Therrien one day after the club lost a 6-2 decision in Toronto and named Bylsma as his replacement. Pittsburgh failed to pick up a win in Bylsma's debut as it was handed a shootout loss in Monday afternoon's road test against the Islanders.

Jeff Tambellini notched the winner in the shootout as the Islanders slipped by the Penguins, 3-2, at Nassau Coliseum. After Tambellini scored, New York goaltender Joey MacDonald sealed the win by stopping both Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.

Malkin and Ryan Whitney scored for the Penguins, who have dropped two straight and three of their last four games. Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves in defeat.

Therrien, who led Pittsburgh to the Stanley Cup finals last season, was fired after going 27-25-5 this year. The Penguins are currently 10th in the Eastern Conference and six points out of a playoff spot.

The Pens are 15-12-2 as the host this year and have won four of their last five games in the Steel City. Following tonight's test, Pittsburgh will head out on a two-game road trip, stopping in Philadelphia on Saturday before visiting Washington the following day.

Montreal, meanwhile, has lost two straight, six of seven and 11 of its last 14 games. The Habs are currently sixth in the East standings with 67 points -- one point behind the New York Rangers and one point ahead of Florida and Buffalo.

The Canadiens did pick up a point their last time out, as they were handed a shootout loss Wednesday night in Washington. Alexander Semin picked up the game-winner in the shootout as the Capitals nipped Montreal, 4-3, at Verizon Center.

Chris Higgins, Andrei Kostitsyn and Tomas Plekanec lit the lamp for the Canadiens. Andrei Markov assisted on all three goals while Carey Price took the loss despite a 32-save performance.

Montreal lost in its first contest without star forward Alex Kovalev. Kovalev was sent home for the final two games of the club's six-game road trip by general manager Bob Gainey on Tuesday, citing the Russian veteran's recent lack of energy and focus. It's uncertain if Kovalev will be allowed to rejoin the team for Saturday's home test against Ottawa.

The Canadiens are just 13-15-3 as the guest this year and have lost nine of their last 10 road games. Saturday's meeting with the Senators will be the first of two straight at home for the Habs, who will also host Vancouver on Tuesday.

Montreal is 2-0 against the Penguins this season, picking up a win at home and on the road. The Habs have taken four of six and five of eight overall in the series and have also won three straight and six of nine at the Igloo.

02/19 10:50:36 ET


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