BROSSARD - After a day off on Tuesday, the Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex on Wednesday morning in preparation for their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Bell Centre.
- Prior to the start of the on-ice session, David Desharnais (knee) and Greg Pateryn (ankle) skated to continue rehabbing from their respective injuries.
- In his post-practice press conference, head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Andrei Markov is steadily improving in his recovery from a lower-body injury, but that his status remains unchanged.
- Therrien's troops are well-aware of the type of skill the likes of Sidney Crosby (50 points), Evgeni Malkin (49 points), Phil Kessel (42 points) and the rest of the Penguins are bringing into their barn on Wednesday night.
In fact, Mike Sullivan's contingent is coming off an eight-goal outburst against the Washington Capitals in their most recent outing on Monday, securing an 8-7 overtime win and snapping a three-game losing skid in the process.
"You don't want to get into shootouts, especially against Pittsburgh. They have a lot of firepower. I think we played right defensively last game [against Detroit on Monday afternoon], and we want to play like that, but at the same time produce a lot more opportunities offensively," said captain Max Pacioretty, referencing the 1-0 loss the Canadiens suffered at the hands of the Red Wings on Martin Luther King Day at Joe Louis Arena. "When the time comes, we've got to go and try and produce offense, but stay disciplined in our structure."
Video: Max Pacioretty talks about the Penguins
And, avoid the penalty box, of course, as the Penguins boast the League's third-ranked power play which is currently operating at a 23.3 percent clip. The Canadiens, meanwhile, rank 23rd on the penalty kill.
You'll recall that back on December 31, the Canadiens dropped a 4-3 decision to the Penguins in OT at PPG Paints Arena, surrendering the game-tying goal with just 55 seconds remaining in regulation time, before Malkin settled the score in the extra frame.
- Defenseman Jeff Petry is enjoying a breakout campaign offensively so far this season with eight goals - a new single-season high - and 22 points through 44 outings, three points shy of the career-high 25-point tally he generated in 73 games in 2011-12 with Edmonton.
The 29-year-old rearguard - who is the Canadiens' second-most utilized player on the year, averaging 22:16 of ice time per night - says that kind of success is a by-product of his willingness to up his involvement on the rush and develop more of a shooting mentality, too.
"For me, it's just a matter of getting up in the play more, getting up in the rush and being that fourth man in the attack," explained Petry, who also ranks second on the Canadiens with a plus-12 differential alongside Andrew Shaw. "It's a matter of getting pucks through to the net. I found myself passing up shots, looking for my partner when I get the puck on the blue line. I've got to think shot first and get pucks to the net because whether it goes in directly or gets tipped or generates a rebound, it's going to help generate offense for the team."
Petry was paired with Mark Barberio during Wednesday's morning skate, while Zach Redmond skated with Nathan Beaulieu.
- With the Canadiens playing three games over the next four days, concepts like scheduling, practice times and fatigue were topics of conversation again on Wednesday.
"Every little chance we have to practice is important, so on a game day like today, for example, we can work on the power play and things like that. It definitely isn't an ideal situation for anybody," shared Therrien. "We're focusing on being as prepared as we can, and taking things one game at a time."
That being said, the Canadiens won't play any games between February 13 and February 17 as they enjoy their bye week.
"It's tough because this year the World Cup pushed the season back a week. That makes it a little bit more condensed. Maybe if you don't have that World Cup, you've got an extra week to spread out the games. We'll see," said Shaw, when asked to share his thoughts on the five-day reprieve that is generating plenty of talk around the League. "That five-day break might be great for some teams, especially with playoffs around the corner from that point on. Guys get rested and healthy and just recuperate and get ready for playoffs."
- Carey Price will get the start in goal for the Canadiens. He'll be going in search of his 22nd win of the year. The Penguins will counter with Matt Murray between the pipes.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, as well as on TSN Radio 690 and 98,5 fm.