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Canadiens at Penguins preview

Montreal has lost two straight; Pittsburgh seeks 10th win in 14 games

by Wes Crosby / Independent Correspondent

CANADIENS (27-25-7) at PENGUINS (34-15-6)



The Game

The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to move within three points of first place in the Metropolitan Division with a win against the Montreal Canadiens at PPG Paints Arena on Friday.

Pittsburgh fell five points out of first place when the Washington Capitals defeated the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on Thursday. The Penguins are 9-3-1 in their past 13 games and 17-5-2 in their past 24.

The Canadiens will look to avoid a third straight loss after winning nine of their previous 12 games (9-3-0). They failed to score more than two goals in each of their past three games after having at least three in each of their previous five.


Players to watch

Canadiens forward Nick Suzuki has nine points (three goals, six assists) in his past nine games. He scored Montreal's only goal in a 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins on Wednesday.

Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin has eight points (three goals, five assists) during a five-game point streak.


They said it

"We have to help each other more on the ice. Those 50/50 battles, we have to retrieve more pucks." -- Canadiens forward Tomas Tatar

"We have great leadership. We just have a great group of players that don't look for excuses." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan


Canadiens projected lineup

Tomas Tatar -- Phillip Danault -- Brendan Gallagher

Ilya Kovalchuk -- Nick Suzuki -- Joel Armia

Jonathan Drouin -- Max Domi -- Artturi Lehkonen

Nick Cousins -- Jake Evans -- Dale Weise

Brett Kulak -- Jeff Petry

Ben Chiarot -- Victor Mete

Marco Scandella -- Xavier Ouellet

Carey Price

Charlie Lindgren

Scratched: Dale Weise, Christian Folin, Jordan Weal

Injured : Shea Weber (ankle), Paul Byron (knee), Nate Thompson (illness)


Penguins projected lineup

Jason Zucker -- Sidney Crosby -- Dominik Simon

Jared McCann -- Evgeni Malkin -- Bryan Rust

Zach Aston-Reese -- Teddy Blueger -- Brandon Tanev

Sam Lafferty -- Andrew Agozzino -- Patric Hornqvist

Jack Johnson -- Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson -- Justin Schultz

Juuso Riikola -- Chad Ruhwedel

Matt Murray

Tristan Jarry

Scratched: Anthony Angello

Injured: Nick Bjugstad (core muscle surgery), Brian Dumoulin (ankle surgery), Jake Guentzel (shoulder surgery), Dominik Kahun (concussion), John Marino (facial surgery)


Status report

Weber is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a left ankle injury. The defenseman was reevaluated by an orthopedic specialist Wednesday. Thompson will be a game-time decision with an undisclosed illness. … The Penguins did not hold a morning skate. They have not announced a starting goalie.


Stat pack

Kovalchuk's eight game-winning goals against Pittsburgh are his most against any NHL team. … The Penguins are 7-2-1 in their past 10 games against the Canadiens. They have scored at least four goals in six of those 10 games. … Crosby has 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 10 games since returning from core muscle surgery.

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