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Canadiens at Penguins preview

Pittsburgh would clinch playoff berth with win; Schlemko to return for Montreal

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

CANADIENS (28-37-12) at PENGUINS (44-28-6)



The Game

The Pittsburgh Penguins can clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a win against the Montreal Canadiens at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday.

The Penguins, 8-3-2 in their past 13 games, would clinch if they defeat the Canadiens in any fashion because the Florida Panthers lost to the Boston Bruins in regulation Saturday.

Pittsburgh is second in the Metropolitan Division, five points behind the first-place Washington Capitals, one ahead of the third-place Columbus Blue Jackets and two ahead of the fourth-place Philadelphia Flyers. The Penguins, Capitals, Blue Jackets and Flyers have each played 78 games.

The Penguins won 5-3 against the Canadiens twice in the past 15 days, at Bell Centre on March 15 and at PPG Paints Arena on March 21. 

Montreal is 2-1-0 since that March 21 loss, but 3-8-2 in its past 15 games. The Canadiens have been eliminated from playoff contention.


Players to watch

Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher has four goals in his past three games, and five points (four goals, one assist) in a four-game point streak.

Penguins center Sidney Crosby has eight points (five goals, three assists) in a five-game goal and point streak.


They said it

"I don't expect our guys to quit or even take things lightly." -- Canadiens coach Claude Julien

"Quite honestly, our mindset right now is to solidify a playoff spot and we don't have one right now, so we're trying to take each day as it comes. We're going to put our very best lineup on the ice." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan


Canadiens projected lineup

Paul Byron -- Jonathan Drouin -- Brendan Gallagher

Alex Galchenyuk -- Jacob de la Rose -- Artturi Lehkonen

Nikita Scherbak -- Logan Shaw -- Charles Hudon

Nicolas Deslauriers -- Michael McCarron -- Daniel Carr

David Schlemko -- Jeff Petry

Karl Alzner -- Noah Juulsen

Jordie Benn -- Brett Lernout

Antti Niemi

Carey Price

Scratched: Byron Froese, Kerby Rychel, Mike Reilly

Injured: Ales Hemsky (concussion-like symptoms), Phillip Danault (upper body), Victor Mete (finger), Andrew Shaw (upper body), Max Pacioretty (knee), Rinat Valiev (lower body)


Penguins projected lineup

Jake Guentzel -- Sidney Crosby -- Bryan Rust

Carl Hagelin -- Evgeni Malkin -- Phil Kessel

Conor Sheary -- Riley Sheahan -- Patric Hornqvist

Zach Aston-Reese -- Josh Jooris -- Tom Kuhnhackl

Brian Dumoulin -- Kris Letang

Olli Maatta -- Justin Schultz

Matt Hunwick -- Jamie Oleksiak

Matt Murray

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Chad Ruhwedel

Injured: Derick Brassard (lower body), Carter Rowney (upper body)


Status report

Schlemko will return after missing 12 games with an upper-body injury, and will replace Reilly … Brassard will miss a second straight game after missing the morning skate Saturday, and is day to day.


Stat pack

The Canadiens are 1-4-2 in their past seven games against the Penguins. … Murray has gone nine straight games (8-0-1) without a regulation loss at home, his longest streak in the NHL.

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