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Penguins try to start new home streak vs. Canadiens

by Jon Lane

CANADIENS (27-17-5) at PENGUINS (34-13-2)


Last 10: Montreal 4-4-2; Pittsburgh 7-2-1

Season series: The Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins play the second of three games. Matched against Sidney Crosby, Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec held the Penguins captain without a point and to a minus-1 rating in a 3-2 win on Nov. 23 at Bell Centre.

Big story: The Penguins' franchise-record home winning streak ended at 13 games Monday with a 5-1 loss to the Florida Panthers. Pittsburgh, though, still leads the Eastern Conference in both home victories (20-4-0) and points (70), and welcomes a Canadiens team yet to win or lose consecutive games since the start of 2014.

"The games get tough and the points get tough," Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban said Tuesday. "When you're playing great teams you gotta bring your 'A' game. We gotta make sure we're bringing our 'A' game. We just have to be consistent in doing the right things. Once we get back to that we'll be fine."

Team Scope:

Canadiens: First-round draft picks Louis Leblanc (No. 18, 2009) and Nathan Beaulieu (No. 17, 2011) will be in Montreal's lineup Wednesday. Beaulieu was recalled from Hamilton of the American Hockey League on Sunday and Leblanc the following day.

Leblanc, called up for the second time this season, practiced Tuesday with Travis Moen on a line centered by Michael Bournival.

"It feels good," Leblanc said. "It was a long wait. You never know with the injuries up here and whatnot. I'm happy to be back and it's always fun to be in Montreal."

Penguins: Rust did the Penguins in Monday when they played the Panthers in what was their second game in eight days, but they quickly turned the page and looked ahead to Wednesday.

"It is uncharacteristic for our team to lay an egg like that," defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "We'll have some bad nights where we make mistakes or our decision making is off, things like that. Since I've been here, the compete [level] and the work ethic has always been ahead of premium. It's just there, we never even have to talk about it. I think we have to recognize that it was awful [Monday] and get ready for a hard-nosed game on Wednesday."

Who's hot: Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty has points in four straight games and five of six. Plekanec has six points (three goals, three assists) in eight January games. … Penguins center Evgeni Malkin has at least one point in six of his past seven games. Niskanen has points in four straight and 12 of his past 14 games (six goals, seven assists).

Injury report: Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk (hand) is skating with strength coach Pierre Allard and isn't expected back until after the Olympic break. Defenseman Douglas Murray (lower body) is expected to play Wednesday. Defenseman Davis Drewiske (shoulder surgery) and center Ryan White (upper body) are on injured reserve … Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun (blood clot, hip) is off blood thinners. He will skate Wednesday and face shots once his blood levels return to normal. Forward Andrew Ebbett (broken ankle) practiced Monday for the first time since the injury. Forwards Beau Bennett (wrist surgery), Chris Conner (hand surgery), Pascal Dupuis (knee surgery), Brian Gibbons (lower body) and Joe Vitale (sprained right wrist) are on IR.


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