PITTSBURGH - Here are five things you need to know ahead of Friday night's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena.
1. The Canadiens are coming off a 4-1 loss to the Bruins in Boston on Wednesday. Montreal's lone goal was originally credited to Marco Scandella, but was later given to Nick Suzuki, with Scandella earning an assist on the play. Carey Price made 34 saves in the loss.
2. Suzuki is continuing an impressive run which has cemented his place as one of the League's top rookies of 2019-20. The London, ON native has three points in his last four games, and nine points (3G, 6A) in his last nine. Suzuki is fourth in the rookie scoring race with 36 points, and his 24 assists are also third-most (tied) among first-year players. Last weekend, the 20-year-old became the first Canadiens rookie to reach the 35-point mark since Chris Higgins in 2005-06.
3. After having a scheduled day off on Thursday, the Habs hit the ice for a full morning skate on Friday at PPG Paints Arena. The lone player to not skate with the team was Nate Thompson, who was under the weather. Dale Weise moved into the fourth line in Thompson's place for line rushes, with Jake Evans slotting in at center and Nick Cousins staying on the left. That was the only change to the Canadiens' line combinations at practice. After the skate, head coach Claude Julien told reporters that Thompson would be a game-time decision. Julien also announced that Paul Byron was still not given the green light for game action and would remain day-to-day.
4. Meanwhile, the Penguins are coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at home on Tuesday. They are 2-1-1 so far in the month of February, and have picked up 22 points so far in 2020 off a 10-4-2 record in the calendar year. Pittsburgh is still without the services of Jake Guentzel, who was leading the team in scoring when he injured his shoulder on December 30. Evgeni Malkin is currently Pittsburgh's top scorer with 58 points (18G, 40A). This is the third and final meeting of the season between the two teams, and it's for all the marbles after the Habs and Pens split their first two contests. Montreal beat Pittsburgh 4-1 at PPG Paints Arena back on December 10, with the Penguins returning the favor with a 3-2 win over the Habs at the Bell Centre on January 4. Artturi Lehkonen leads the way for Montreal with three points (1G, 2A) in those two games.
5. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. You can catch all the action on TSN2 and RDS on television, and on TSN 690 and 98,5 fm on the radio.
The Canadiens return home immediately following the game, and they face the Dallas Stars on Saturday at the Bell Centre. For tickets to that game, click here.