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Canadiens-Penguins Preview @NHLdotcom

For the underachieving Pittsburgh Penguins, the first game under new coach Dan Bylsma had a familiar result - another disappointing loss.

They hope to change that trend Thursday night against the struggling Montreal Canadiens when they implement Bylsma's aggressive offense.

After advancing to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1992 last season, Pittsburgh (27-25-6) has been one of the league's biggest disappointments.

The Penguins had been expected to contend for the Stanley Cup, but are six points out of the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot.

The team's season-long struggles led to the firing of coach Michel Therrien Sunday. Bylsma got the call that he would replace Therrien, just before he was set to coach his Wilkes Barre-Scranton club in an AHL game.

Bylsma met his new team Monday morning and was behind the bench for a 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Islanders later than day - the Penguins' sixth defeat in nine games.

Bylsma had his first practice with the Penguins on Wednesday and is attempting to get them to be more aggressive and instinctive, and less driven by a mindset of avoiding mistakes.

Though it's late in the season to install a new offense, but Bylsma hopes his team can quickly adjust to the new scheme.

"He's really detailed in his systems, and I mean the systems are going to be a drastic change from what we were playing before," defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "The mentality is he just wants us to be a lot more aggressive in every zone, play on your toes and play with confidence, don't go out there playing not to make mistakes."

Bylsma also is seeking increased production from players other than Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, the NHL's No. 1 and No. 3 scorers, respectively.

"I think he's excited for this opportunity, and that's the way we have to look at this - as a great challenge and a great way for us to raise our game and find a way to (get) ourselves in the playoffs," said Crosby, who has just one assist in his last four games. "Our game had to change."

The inconsistent play of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has contributed to Pittsburgh's struggles. He's gone 1-2-1 with a 2.88 goals-against average in his last four starts. Fleury was also in goal for the Penguins' first two games against Montreal (30-21-7) this season and posted a 3.57 GAA in losing both.

While this has been a trying season for Pittsburgh, the Canadiens have had their own problems lately.

Montreal suffered a 4-3 shootout loss to Washington on Wednesday, its 11th defeat in 14 games. The Canadiens had the third-most points (60) in the East on Jan. 17, but have since dropped to sixth, just one point ahead of eighth-place Buffalo.

Montreal played without slumping All-Star right wing Alex Kovalev, who was told by the team to stay home and rest during this two-game swing through Washington and Pittsburgh.

Carey Price made 32 saves Wednesday, but fell to 2-7-1 with a 3.71 GAA in 12 games since returning from a lower-body injury. Price, who was 7-0-2 with a 2.09 GAA in his final nine starts before the injury, has won all four of his career starts against the Penguins, compiling a 2.20 GAA in those meetings.

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