NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, February 7th (All times Eastern)
Pittsburgh Penguins (30-19-4) at Montreal Canadiens (20-24-9), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Pittsburgh Penguins have gone through a rough patch to begin February, but they'll try to get back on track tonight when they visit the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
The Penguins ended January on an eight-game winning streak, but have lost two of three games to begin the new month as well as a four-game road trip that is set to end tonight.
Pittsburgh began its swing last Wednesday with a 1-0 loss in Toronto before posting Saturday's 2-1 victory against the Boston Bruins. The Pens did not fare well on Sunday, however, as they dropped a 5-2 decision against the New Jersey Devils.
Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and two assists on Sunday for the Devils, who scored the game's first three goals. The shorthanded Penguins, playing once again without centers Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal, got a goal apiece from Evgeni Malkin and Matt Niskanen.
Meanwhile, Marc-Andre Fleury, who was coming off a 28-save performance against the Bruins, was pulled in the second period on Sunday after allowing three goals on 12 shots. Brent Johnson made 11 saves in relief.
"They came out ready," said Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis. "We obviously got caught puck watching and didn't have the start we wanted."
The setback dropped Pittsburgh to 15-12-2 on the road this season and also allowed New Jersey to pull within one point of the Pens for the fifth seed in the East. Pittsburgh is just two points behind Philadelphia for the conference's fourth spot.
Crosby (concussion/neck), Staal (knee) and Arron Asham (concussion) are all out indefinitely for the Pens and fellow forward Tyler Kennedy left Sunday's game with a lower-body injury. Kennedy, who has 22 points in 42 games this year, is questionable for tonight.
Pittsburgh will try to sweep the season series against the Canadiens tonight. The Pens are 3-0 versus Montreal, but the last two games have gone past regulation. Pittsburgh's most recent win over Montreal came when it rallied from a pair of two-goal deficits to notch a 5-4 shootout win over the visiting Habs on Jan. 20.
The Canadiens had lost three straight -- all in regulation -- before notching a 3-0 win Sunday against visiting Winnipeg. Carey Price stopped 23 shots for his third shutout of the season and Tomas Plekanec had a goal and an assist in the triumph.
"I thought our guys played with a lot of hunger and a lot of grit tonight," said Price. "We had a good forecheck and did a great job of pounding their defensemen. That's why we kept the momentum throughout most of the game."
Max Pacioretty and Alexei Emelin both scored for the Canadiens, who are 12 points out of a playoff spot in the East.
The Habs are just 10-11-7 as the host this year and are completing a three- game homestand tonight.
02/07 10:48:01 ET