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At the Rink: Penguins at Canadiens

by Sean Farrell /

MONTREAL -- One week after losing to the Montreal Canadiens at home, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins look to pay them back at Bell Centre on Saturday.

Crosby said he expects another tight-checking game after Montreal won 4-1 at Consol Energy Center last Saturday.

"I think if you look at the last game especially, there wasn't a ton of room out there," Crosby said after the morning skate. "They capitalized on some chances, but I think we'd like to generate a few more chances. I thought we did a pretty good job in the first period, but in the second two they seemed to shut those chances down pretty well."

A key for Penguins coach Mike Johnston is denying the Canadiens transition opportunities.

"They're a good team in transition, they have very good skill, very good speed up front, and we just don't want to give them those easy transition opportunities," Johnston said. "So we talk about turnovers through the neutral zone, make sure we manage the puck real well through there, and making sure our backcheck is solid off the forecheck."

Left wing Chris Kunitz will be reunited with Crosby on a line with David Perron, who will move to right wing. Crosby is very familiar with Kunitz, and said he's encouraged about adapting to Perron, who scored in his Pittsburgh debut last week against Montreal.

"It's probably something that's going to take a little bit of time, but I think we've adjusted pretty well considering how quick it's been," Crosby said. "We've had a few days of practice together, and he's a pretty easy guy to read out there. He likes to go to the scoring areas and he likes to shoot the puck, so I don't see it being a really big adjustment for anybody."

Perron had five goals and 19 points in 38 games with the Edmonton Oilers, who traded him to Pittsburgh on Jan. 2 for Rob Klinkhammer and a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.

The 26-year-old forward said he is adjusting to playing with the likes of Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

"The easy part is you're going to get a lot of shots from the slot, and if you're ready for it you're probably going to score some goals," Perron said. "I had six shots my first game and five the second game. If you look at the games I had earlier in the year, I don't know if I came close to that in Edmonton. I probably had three or four shots every once in a while. That's the mentality I've got to have; keep shooting the puck as much as possible."

"I think the part that's a little bit tougher to play with them is not even because of them, it's that you get caught watching them sometimes instead of being involved in the play. I caught myself doing that a couple of times in practice and during the games. It's just something getting more comfortable with them will help that way."

Canadiens coach Michel Therrien will reunite a line that played together briefly last season with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League. Sven Andrighetto will move to center on a line with left wing Michael Bournival and right wing Christian Thomas, who will make his season debut after he was recalled from Hamilton on Friday.

"I have the vision to see my teammates and set them up," Andrighetto said after the morning skate at the Canadiens' suburban practice facility. "You have a little bit more control on the game than as a winger and I'm really excited to play with Bournival and Thomas. We played together last year in Hamilton and it worked out well."

Thomas, the son of longtime NHL forward Steve Thomas, has played three games in the League, including two last season with Montreal. He made his debut in 2012-13 at Bell Centre with the New York Rangers, who traded him to the Canadiens for forward Dany Kristo on July 2, 2013.

"I know they expect me to play the way I was traded for, the way they know I can play," said Thomas, who had nine goals and 14 points in 29 games with Hamilton. "I use my speed and shoot the puck so I'm going to try to do the best I can to do that to help the team."

Andrighetto has two goals and one assist through his first 11 games with Montreal this season. The 21-year-old Swiss rookie had 18 points in 21 games with Hamilton, and 44 points in 64 games with the Bulldogs last season.

He has played a bit with Bournival, who had eight points in seven AHL games earlier this season, and three points in three games with Hamilton last season.

Andrighetto said he played pretty much all of last season with Thomas, who had 27 points in 55 games with the Bulldogs in 2013-14.

"We started off me on the left wing and him on the right wing and then later in the season I switched to center and he was still on my right wing, so I'm really familiar with him," Andrighetto said. "I know how he plays the game. He's a speedy winger and he has a great shot, so obviously as a center I'm going to try to feed him the puck as much as I can and I'm really looking forward to (Saturday)."

Members of the Canadiens were concerned about the welfare of Hamilton defenseman Jarred Tinordi, who was knocked out in a fight with Vancouver Canucks prospect Andrey Pedan in the Bulldogs' game against the Utica Comets on Friday.

"I don't know if he lost his footing or what happened," Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulieu said. "It really shook a lot of our room up (Saturday). It wasn't fun to see; it almost made you sick to your stomach. You don't want to see stuff like that. It happened last year with George Parros; he hit his face on the ice and it's scary. You never want to see that happen to anyone."

Here are the projected lineups:


Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - David Perron

Nick Spaling - Evgeni Malkin - Beau Bennett

Bryan Rust - Brandon Sutter - Steve Downie

Zach Sill - Marcel Goc - Craig Adams

Christian Ehrhoff - Kris Letang

Paul Martin - Robert Bortuzzo

Rob Scuderi - Simon Despres

Marc-Andre Fleury

Thomas Greiss

Scratched: Andrew Ebbett, Derrick Pouliot

Injured: None.


Max Pacioretty - Alex Galchenyuk - Brendan Gallagher

David Desharnais - Tomas Plekanec - Dale Weise

Jiri Sekac - Lars Eller - Brandon Prust

Michael Bournival - Sven Andrighetto - Christian Thomas

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban

Nathan Beaulieu - Sergei Gonchar

Alexei Emelin - Tom Gilbert

Carey Price

Dustin Tokarski

Scratched: Mike Weaver, Manny Malhotra

Injured: Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau (upper body)

Status report: Goc returns after he missed the Penguins' 3-2 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins on Wednesday because of illness. … Malhotra is a healthy scratch for the third time in five games after playing the first 36 games this season.

Who's hot: Malkin had a goal and an assist for the second time in his past three games Wednesday. Crosby has five assists in his past three games. ... Pacioretty has four points while scoring in three straight games. Plekanec and Weise each have a goal and two assists during their respective three-game points streaks. Gonchar has five assists in his past six games.

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