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Canadiens-Penguins Preview @NHL
Canadiens-Penguins Preview

GAME: Montreal Canadiens (12-3-1) at Pittsburgh Penguins (4-7-5).

TIME: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

Jose Theodore hopes to lead the Montreal Canadiens to their sixth straight win as they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena.

Theodore, who won both the Vezina trophy and MVP award in 2002, had won four straight starts and 10 of 14 overall this season.

"The last seven or eight games I've been feeling well," said the 29-year-old goaltender. "I've been trying to build on little details and make the little adjustments that allow me to make the big saves. I'm just concentrating on my stuff and the guys are taking care of the rest. It's fun to see them working hard like that."

On Tuesday, Theodore stopped 32 shots and Richard Zednik scored midway through the third period as the Canadiens topped the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2.

Theodore was asked if his performance in the second was his best period of the season after he stopped 13 of 14 shots while Montreal managed just two shots.

"I don't know, it's up to you to decide," said Theodore. "I'm just there to stop the puck. I'm just concentrating on making every save I can and from there - we were down a goal and the guys came back to win the third period."

Defensemen Andrei Markov and Craig Rivet scored power-play goals to help the Eastern Conference-leading Canadiens extend their winning streak to five. Montreal, 12-3-1 overall, including nine wins by one goal, tied the third-best start in franchise history with 25 points through 16 games.

The Penguins are trying to bounce back from their most lopsided loss of the season, a 5-0 setback at Atlanta on Tuesday to close out a five-game road trip.

Pittsburgh goalie Sebastien Caron left the game with a strained left quadriceps.

"It's too early to say much about it," Caron said. "You don't want to stay in and let it get worse."

Pittsburgh, held without a win in its first nine games, settled for a 3-2 road trip. With a win, the Penguins would have had the best five-game trip in franchise history.

"Overall we have played some good hockey on this trip, but tonight I think we were a step slow," Pittsburgh coach Eddie Olczyk said. "We did not take the advantage on any of our opportunities."

STANDINGS (through Nov. 9): Canadiens - 25 points, 1st place, Northeast Division. Penguins - 13 points, 5th place, 8 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canadiens - Michael Ryder, 7 goals; Saku Koivu, 13 assists and 18 points; Mike Komisarek, 31 PIM. Penguins - Mario Lemieux, Mark Recchi and Zigmund Palffy, 6 goals; Sidney Crosby, 14 assists and 19 points; Brooks Orpik, 32 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 9): Canadiens - Power play: 20.1 percent (22 for 109), 9th in NHL (tied). Penalty killing: 83.6 percent (92 for 110), 13th. Penguins - Power play: 19.6 percent (22 for 112), 11th in NHL. Penalty killing: 76.3 percent (87 for 114), 29th.

GOALTENDERS: Canadiens - Theodore (10-3-1, 0 SO, 2.90 GAA); Yann Danis (2-0-0, 1, 1.50). Penguins - Caron (4-3-3, 0, 3.68); Jocelyn Thibault (0-3-1, 0, 5.22).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Canadiens, 4-0.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 3, 2004. Canadiens, 4-3. At Pittsburgh, Niklas Sundstrom and Koivu scored after Montreal squandered a two-goal lead as the Canadiens sent the Penguins to a club record-tying 11th consecutive loss.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canadiens - 6-0-1 on the road; Penguins 1-3-2 at home.

Associated Press

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