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Canadiens-Penguins Preview

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The Pittsburgh Penguins are hoping their latest streak will be enough to boost them into the postseason.

The Penguins look to match their longest winning streak of the season Thursday when they host the Montreal Canadiens.

Pittsburgh (24-17-8) won their fourth straight on Tuesday, beating Florida 3-0. The Penguins, who have won four in a row for the third time this season, won five straight Oct. 19-Nov.1.

"I think it's a pretty good stretch. I don't think I've ever had that many wins in a row," goalie Marc-Andre Fleury told the team's official Web site. "It's a pretty good feeling knowing that we have a chance to win every game."

Fleury recorded his third shutout this season and fifth of his career for Pittsburgh, which has outscored its opponents 22-7 during its winning streak. The Penguins have earned a point in seven straight games, going 6-0-1 over that span.

Pittsburgh is 25 points ahead of its pace from last season, when it was 11-29-9 and finished with only 22 wins. The Penguins are tied for eighth place in the Eastern Conference and in playoff contention for the first time since Mario Lemieux's comeback season six years ago.

"With that personnel over there, it was only a matter of time before they got going," Florida's Bryan Allen said. "Fleury played well, especially in the third period, and sometimes that's the biggest factor."

Michel Ouellet, Dominic Moore and Ryan Whitney scored goals, and Sidney Crosby picked up an assist to extend his point streak to seven games (four goals, 10 assists). Crosby leads the NHL with 54 assists and 79 points.

"We got some big saves, especially in the third when they were pressing pretty hard," Crosby said. "That's what your goalie needs to do, buy you time and make it tough on teams to get back when you have a lead."

The Penguins were coming off a pair of big road wins. They beat Dallas 4-3 in a shootout Friday and routed Phoenix 7-2 on Saturday.

"We wanted to make sure we come back here focused," Crosby said. "We didn't come back overconfident. We came back with a strong work ethic and tried to play the way we did in those two games on the road."

The Canadiens (28-18-5) are coming off Monday's 3-1 win over Ottawa. Montreal, which is in fifth place in the East, has won three of four since a three-game losing streak.

After allowing a goal just 52 seconds into the game, backup goalie David Aebischer held the Senators scoreless the rest of the way. Sheldon Souray, Mark Streit and Tomas Plekanec scored 2:24 apart in the second period .

"We stuck with our system. Sometimes it wasn't very pretty but we did what we had to do," Souray said. "When we just pay attention to some of those little details, we're a pretty good team. We played against a team that's been on a pretty good roll."

Saku Koivu scored two second-period goals as part of a four-goal outburst in the middle period to lead Montreal to a 6-3 victory over Pittsburgh on Dec. 16 in the only meeting between the teams this season.

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