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Penguins-Canadiens Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: Pittsburgh Penguins (16-38-12) at Montreal Canadiens (31-25-9).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.

With an eye toward better playoff positioning, the Montreal Canadiens will try to rediscover their offensive touch as they meet the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Bell Centre.

Montreal has been limited to a total of two goals in consecutive losses to Carolina and Tampa Bay, and the Canadiens are just 2-10-1 this season when scoring one goal or less.

The Canadiens also are in the midst of a tight playoff race. Montreal owns the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot with 71 points, one ahead of ninth-place Atlanta and one point behind the seventh-place Lightning.

Montreal has not lost three in a row since Jan. 19-23 and is trying to avoid consecutive home losses to Pittsburgh for the first time since Nov. 28, 1998-Jan. 31, 1999.

David Aebischer, acquired from Colorado earlier this month, struggled in his Montreal debut. He finished with 36 saves Thursday in a 5-1 loss to Carolina.

"It doesn't really matter who you're facing," Aebischer said. "Unfortunately, we came up short ... but that's one game. We have to put it behind us and look forward because there are a lot of tough games coming up."

After this contest, nine of Montreal's remaining 16 games are against Northeast Division rivals.

The Canadiens may go back to Cristobal Huet in net for this contest. He is 5-1-2 with a 1.49 goals-against average, .950 save percentage and three shutouts at home this season.

Center Mike Ribeiro has a goal and assist in the Canadiens' last two games. He had two assists in his only appearance this season against the Penguins, a 3-2 shootout loss Nov. 10 in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh - owners of the league's worst record - is looking for its third win in four games. The Penguins had a chance to win three straight for the first time all season, but came up short in a 2-1 loss Thursday to New Jersey.

Jani Rita's unassisted goal gave the Pens a 1-0 lead after one period. But goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury gave up second-period tallies to John Madden and Brian Gionta. Pittsburgh then managed only four shots in a scoreless third.

"It was a tight game and we broke down a little in the second," Penguins rookie right wing Colby Armstrong said. "We played right into their hands."

Rookie star Sidney Crosby was held off the scoresheet for just the second time in seven games since the Olympic break ended. He has three goals in two games against the Canadiens.

STANDINGS: Penguins - 44 points, 5th place, 40 PB, Atlantic Division. Canadiens - 71 points, 3rd place, 23 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Penguins - Crosby, 31 goals, 43 assists and 74 points; Brooks Orpik, 110 PIM. Canadiens - Michael Ryder, 24 goals; Alexei Kovalev, 32 assists and 49 points; Todd Simpson, 116 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Penguins - Power play: 18.0 percent (74 for 410), 13th in NHL. Penalty killing: 78.1 percent (342 for 438), 30th. Canadiens - Power play: 18.8 percent (68 for 361), 7th. Penalty killing: 81.1 percent (330 for 407), 22nd.

GOALTENDERS: Penguins - Fleury (9-22-5, 1 SO, 3.26 GAA); Sebastien Caron (6-6-4, 0, 4.29). Canadiens - Aebischer (25-15-2, 3, 3.03); Huet (11-7-4, 5, 2.24).

SEASON SERIES: Penguins, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 3; Penguins, 6-4. At Montreal, Crosby scored on the Penguins' first shot and finished with two goals against the team he rooted for while growing up. Jonathan Ferland scored in his Canadiens debut.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Penguins - 7-20-5 on the road; Canadiens - 17-9-4 at home.

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