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Battle of All-Star goalies as Habs host Penguins

by Brian Hunter /

PENGUINS (26-14-4) at CANADIENS (24-16-3)


Last 10:
Pittsburgh 4-4-2; Montreal 5-4-1

Season series: Third of four meetings this season. The Canadiens have claimed a pair of one-goal victories over the Penguins. Michael Cammalleri and Scott Gomez scored 24 seconds apart late in the third period for a 3-2 win in Pittsburgh on Oct. 9, then Benoit Pouliot scored in regulation and the shootout as part of a 2-1 victory in Montreal on Jan. 6.

Big story: They may end up as teammates or remain on opposing sides, but Marc-Andre Fleury and Carey Price are both headed to Raleigh at the end of the month for the 2011 NHL All-Star Game presented by Discover. Fleury was one of the six players voted in by the fans, while Price was named on Tuesday. Rosters will be picked on Jan. 28 during a fantasy draft at the Raleigh Convention Center to kick off All-Star Weekend.

Team Scope:

Penguins: Minutes away from pulling out their first win in three games this season without Sidney Crosby, it all fell apart late for Pittsburgh on Monday against Boston. Goals by Mike Rupp and Kris Letang combined with shutout goaltending from Fleury had the Penguins in control, but the Bruins needed just three-and-a-half minutes to wipe out their two goal deficit and hand the home team a stunning 4-2 defeat.

"Frustrating," Fleury said. "It was tough at the end there, there's not much time left and they kept coming at us. It's tough to let that one go."

Canadiens: He's been the forgotten man at times this season with Price showing he can shoulder a heavy workload and deliver, but Montreal backup Alex Auld was front and center Tuesday at Madison Square Garden against the team he finished last season with, the New York Rangers. He stopped 25 shots and the Canadiens got goals from Pouliot and Jaroslav Spacek to claim a 2-1 win that keeps them tied with the Bruins atop the Northeast Division. Spacek also cleared a loose puck out of the crease in front of Auld late to preserve the lead.

"I had no idea where it was," said Auld, who was playing in just his sixth game of the season. "I turned around and Spacek got his stick on it and sweeped it away. Right then I kind of knew we were meant to win the game. The bounces seemed to be going our way."

Who's hot: Letang, also voted to the All-Star Game by the fans, has 1 goal and 4 assists over his last five games for the Penguins. … James Wisniewski has 2 goals and 6 points in five games since the Canadiens acquired him from the Islanders.

Injury report: Crosby remains out for Pittsburgh with a mild concussion, while forward Arron Asham missed Monday's game due to illness but was skating on Tuesday. Forward Eric Godard (broken nose) was also out of the lineup Monday, and forward Mike Comrie (hip) is on injured reserve. … Montreal defensemen Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges are out for the season with knee injuries, while Cammalleri missed Tuesday's game due to illness.

Stat pack: Evgeni Malkin typically steps up his play in Crosby's absence, posting 25 goals and 50 points in 41 games when Sid the Kid has been out of the Penguins' lineup. … In the absence of Markov and Gorges, the ice time of young Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban has been increasing. He played a season-high 26:27 against the Bruins last Saturday and 22:12 against the Rangers, just 32 seconds behind Hal Gill for the team lead among blueliners.

Puck drop: Pittsburgh center Jordan Staal was informed after Tuesday's practice that both of his NHL-playing brothers, Eric in Carolina and Marc in New York, were named to the All-Star roster.

"Oh, did they? Very nice," said Staal, who missed the chance to complete the triumvirate due to foot and hand injuries that have limited him to five games this season. "I was expecting (that), the way Eric was playing. Even the way Marc was playing, I knew he had a good chance. Both of them deserve it and I'm very happy for them."

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