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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, January 12th (All times eastern)

Pittsburgh Penguins (26-14-4) at Montreal Canadiens (24-16-3), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - It's safe to say that the Pittsburgh Penguins miss captain Sidney Crosby.

Expected to be without the former Hart Trophy winner for a fourth straight contest, the Pens return to the site where their current losing streak began this evening as they visit the Montreal Canadiens and Bell Centre for the second time in less than a week.

After posting an assist in just over 19 minutes of action in an 8-1 win over Tampa Bay last Wednesday, Crosby has missed the last three contests with a mild concussion. Pittsburgh has gone 0-2-1 in that span, scoring just three goals.

The Penguins' first game without Crosby came last Thursday in Montreal, a 2-1 shootout loss. Benoit Pouliot scored the regulation goal for the Canadiens and then had the lone tally of a five-round shootout as Montreal picked up its third straight victory over Pittsburgh overall and second in a row at the Bell Centre.

The Pens seemed to really miss Crosby on Monday as they led the Bruins by two goals late in the third period before Boston rallied for four goals over the game's final 3:23 to hand Pittsburgh a 4-2 setback. Two of the Bruins' goals came on the power play and the Penguins had just two shots in the third frame.

"They were hungry and they got a couple ugly goals," Pittsburgh's Michael Rupp said.

Rupp and Kris Letang both had second-period tallies and Marc-Andre Fleury ended with 28 saves for the Penguins, who have matched their longest losing streak of the season. A setback tonight and Pittsburgh will be on its longest skid since a five-game slide from Dec. 27-Jan. 3 of last season.

Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma won't rush Crosby back into the lineup so the club will need to find a way to score without the center, who still leads the NHL with 32 goals and 66 points but is not yet symptom free.

The Penguins, who trail the Flyers by three points for first place in the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division, will play their next two on the road and have dropped three straight as the guest.

Fleury, who did not start last week's game versus the Canadiens, is 9-7-1 with a 3.45 goals-against average in his career against them.

Pittsburgh will likely face Montreal goaltender Carey Price for a third time this season. Price has stopped 67 of the 70 shots fired his way this season by the Penguins and is 6-4-0 with a 2.67 GAA versus them lifetime.

The 23-year-old has made 38 starts this year and is among the league leaders with 21 wins. Price was given a rest last night, with Alex Auld backstopping Montreal to a 2-1 victory at the New York Rangers.

Making his fifth start of the season and first since Dec. 31, Auld turned aside 25 shots, while Pouliot had the game-winner in the third period.

"I was about to go off for a line change, but then I saw that the Rangers defense was also changing, so I caught them flat-footed, went around and just put it up high," said Pouliot.

Jaroslav Spacek also scored for Montreal, which has now won three straight games and is 4-0-1 in its past five.

Montreal begins a three-game homestand tonight and is 5-1-1 in its last seven at the Bell Centre. It is unknown if Mike Cammalleri will play tonight after he missed Tuesday night's game with an illness.

The Habs are two points back of Boston for first place in the Northeast Division.

01/12 10:44:36 ET


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