CANADIENS (25-11-2) at PENGUINS (24-9-5)
TV: TVA SPORTS, CITY, ROOT
PITTSBURGH -- David Perron will make his Pittsburgh Penguins debut against the Montreal Canadiens at Consol Energy Center on Saturday.
The Penguins acquired Perron from the Edmonton Oilers on Friday for a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft and forward Rob Klinkhammer. Perron was not able to play against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday, a 6-3 Pittsburgh win, but will be available for the Penguins’ game against another formidable Eastern Conference opponent Saturday.
Perron was welcomed by French-Canadian teammates, Pascal Dupuis and Kris Letang, after skating for about 10 minutes on his own Saturday morning.
"Obviously the excitement level of going from a team that’s not going to make the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs to a team that certainly will make the playoffs and make a run at the Cup is extremely special to me," Perron said. "As a player, once you've played a few years in the League, all you start to worry about is winning hockey games and I just try to come in, do my part, work hard and fit in with the team."
Pittsburgh did not hold a morning skate Saturday, so it is difficult to predict where Perron will play in the lineup. He likely will skate at right wing on one of the top two lines, based on Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford’s comments Friday.
Perron could jolt the Penguins offense, which has struggled recently, although that was not apparent Friday. Before breaking out for six goals against Tampa Bay, the Penguins had lost four of their previous five games and failed to score more than two goals in three consecutive games.
Rutherford said Friday he had been searching for a top-six forward since the first month of the season, and in Perron Pittsburgh got a three-time 20-goal scorer and Edmonton's goal leader from last season (28).
"It's going to be amazing to play with any of those three guys [centers Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin or Brandon Sutter]," Perron said. "I just think the play starts from the middle, from the breakout, from the [defensemen]; that's the guy in the middle. They're the one who can bring a lot of speed through the neutral zone. … It's going to be nice to be a part of that."
Perron, a Quebec native, said it will be "surreal" to make his Penguins debut against Montreal.
Perron will add a new face to the Penguins lineup, while a familiar face could exit the Canadiens'.
Forward Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau was injured midway through the second period of Montreal's 4-2 win against the New Jersey Devils on Friday. Parenteau was carrying the puck out of the Montreal end when he was hit by Devils forward Tim Sestito. Parenteau immediately skated to the Canadiens bench.
Montreal also did not hold a morning skate, so it is uncertain if Parenteau will be able to play in his normal role as the second-line right wing alongside center Tomas Plekanec and left wing David Desharnais.
Here are the projected lineups:
Max Pacioretty - Alex Galchenyuk - Brendan Gallagher
David Desharnais - Tomas Plekanec - Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
Jiri Sekac - Lars Eller - Brandon Prust
Sven Andrighetto - Manny Malhotra - Dale Weise
Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban
Nathan Beaulieu - Sergei Gonchar
Alexei Emelin - Tom Gilbert
Scratched: Bryan Allen, Michael Bournival, Mike Weaver
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - David Perron
Nick Spaling - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Steve Downie - Brandon Sutter - Beau Bennett
Bobby Farnham - Marcel Goc - Craig Adams
Christian Ehrhoff - Kris Letang
Rob Scuderi - Simon Despres
Derrick Pouliot - Robert Bortuzzo
Scratched: Scott Harrington, Andrew Ebbett
Injured: Patric Hornqvist (upper body), Blake Comeau (upper body), Paul Martin (undisclosed), Pascal Dupuis (blood clot), Olli Maatta (upper body), Scott Wilson (leg), Zach Sill (upper body)
Status report: The Penguins reassigned forward Jayson Megna to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League on Saturday to make room for Perron on the roster. … Weaver has not played since Dec. 6 because of a concussion.
Who’s Hot: Crosby broke out of a recent slump with four assists against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday. Crosby's 42 points have him one point behind Malkin for the Penguins lead. … Pacioretty added to his Canadiens lead with his 15th goal of the season Friday. His 29 points also lead the Canadiens.