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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, October 20th (All times Eastern)

Montreal Canadiens (1-3-1) at Pittsburgh Penguins (4-2-2), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The struggling Montreal Canadiens will aim for just their second win of the season when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins for tonight's clash at CONSOL Energy Center.

The Canadiens are off to a 1-3-1 start to the season and have been on the losing end in three straight games. All three setbacks on the current skid came on home ice and Montreal's only win this year was on Oct. 9 in Winnipeg.

Montreal did have success against the Penguins last season, taking three of the four meetings between the clubs in 2010-11. The clubs have split the last 12 matchups in this series overall and the Habs have taken two in a row and five of the last eight in Pittsburgh.

The Canadiens were dealt a 3-1 setback by the visiting Sabres on Tuesday, as Thomas Vanek scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period for Buffalo. Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller was also tremendous, stopping 40 shots, including 11 in the third period. Carey Price made 20 saves in defeat.

Montreal was 0-for-5 on the power play in Tuesday's loss and has scored just two goals on 21 chances with the man advantage this season.

Canadiens winger Mike Cammalleri is making the trip to Pittsburgh, but it's still unclear if he is ready to return from a lacerated left leg. Cammalleri, who had 19 goals in 67 games for Montreal last year, has missed the last three games since suffering the cut on Oct. 9 in Winnipeg and he is questionable for tonight.

"There's no definite answer on when but I feel really good," Cammalleri told his club's website about his status. "It's just a matter of seeing what's under this equipment and we'll see if it holds up or not."

In milestone news, Habs defenseman Hal Gill is expected to skate in his 1,000th NHL game tonight. Gill, who played 80 games with Pittsburgh from 2007-09, is the 38th overall player from the United States to reach that mark and the 15th American defenseman.

The Penguins, meanwhile, have been the busiest club in the league in the early going, having already played an NHL-high eight games. The Penguins also recently found themselves mired in a three-game slide, but Pittsburgh snapped the slump with Tuesday's road victory over Minnesota.

Pascal Dupuis scored and added an assist, as Pittsburgh jumped out early and led throughout in a 4-2 victory over the Wild at Xcel Center.

James Neal, Chris Kunitz and Jordan Staal all scored and Matt Cooke added two assists for the Penguins, who played without forwards Evgeni Malkin (right knee), Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Tyler Kennedy (concussion).

Brent Johnson got the start between the pipes, stopping 24-of-26 shots in the win.

"It's a simple thing, communication between myself and the defensemen, trying to simplify everything as much as possible. We played hard around the boards, tried to get it out as quick as we could," Johnson said when asked about the recipe for success.

Crosby is still out indefinitely with post-concussion symptoms and Malkin has missed three straight and five of Pittsburgh's last six games. Kennedy has sat out two games after suffering a concussion Saturday against Buffalo, but the Penguins have not yet commented on the severity of the head injury.

On the defensive side, Pittsburgh will be without top blueliner Kris Letang, who will serve the final test of a two-game suspension tonight. Letang was banned for two games for a hit from behind against Winnipeg's Alex Burmistrov.

Pens defenseman Brooks Orpik is questionable for tonight after sitting out every game so far while recovering from offseason hernia surgery.

Pittsburgh is 1-1-1 on home ice this season after going 25-14-2 in the Steel City last year.

10/20 10:49:43 ET


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