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Preview: Penguins at Canadiens

Goalie Matt Murray starts for Pittsburgh; Montreal aims to avenge New Year's Eve loss

by Sean Farrell / NHL.com Correspondent

PENGUINS (27-11-5) at CANADIENS (27-12-6)

7:30 p.m. ET; SN1, SNE, SNO, SNP, RDS, ROOT, NHL.TV

 

Penguins team scope

Goalie Matt Murray will make his second straight start and third in four games for the Pittsburgh Penguins since returning from a lower-body injury. Murray allowed all seven goals in Pittsburgh's 8-7 win against the Washington Capitals on Monday. "Matt's had a history of responding pretty well to those types of games," coach Mike Sullivan said after an optional morning skate. "He's also a guy that hasn't played a lot of games coming off his last injury so we feel as though with another game here he's going to get that much more comfortable with the decisions that he makes and finding the puck and tracking the puck. I think the only way as a goaltender you can get is in game situations. From our standpoint, Matt has always had a long history of responding the right way." Sullivan said the biggest challenge in facing the Montreal Canadiens is trying to limit their transition game and speed. "Whenever we play these types of game, because of the nature of our team and the type of game we want to play, our players instinctively want to play with the puck and they want to make plays," Sullivan said. "So I think our best game is when we make good decisions with the puck coming through the neutral zone. We've got to make sure that we force Montreal to have to play a 200-foot game. We can't feed their transition game by making high-risk plays in the wrong areas of the rink. We've got to make sure we're diligent with our puck decisions."

 

Canadiens team scope

The Canadiens are looking to avenge a 4-3 loss to the Penguins on Dec. 31, when they allowed the tying goal with 55 seconds remaining in the third period and Evgeni Malkin's power-play goal in overtime. "We know what they have and they proved it against us," captain Max Pacioretty said. "They have too much firepower over there to give them too many opportunities and they're going to cash in, so they're always dangerous. No matter what the scoreboard says, they're able to score and score quickly, and score in bunches like you saw last game for them, so we have to keep our structure. When opportunities are there we've got to try and jump on them." Coach Michel Therrien will again use defenseman Mark Barberio with Jeff Petry instead of Nathan Beaulieu. "They weren't always on the same wavelength defensively," Therrien said about separating Beaulieu and Petry during a 1-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Monday. "They were giving up too many scoring chances for our liking." The Canadiens have alternated wins and losses in their past six games (3-3-0).

 

Penguins projected lineup

Conor Sheary -- Sidney Crosby -- Bryan Rust

Jake Guentzel -- Evgeni Malkin -- Patric Hornqvist

Carl Hagelin -- Nick Bonino -- Phil Kessel

Chris Kunitz -- Eric Fehr -- Tom Kuhnhackl

Olli Maatta -- Trevor Daley

Ian Cole -- Justin Schultz

Cameron Gaunce -- Chad Ruhwedel

Matt Murray

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Steve Oleksy, Scott Wilson

Injured: Kris Letang (lower body), Brian Dumoulin (broken jaw), Matt Cullen (foot)

 

Canadiens projected lineup

Max Pacioretty -- Alex Galchenyuk -- Alexander Radulov

Artturi Lehkonen -- Tomas Plekanec -- Sven Andrighetto

Paul Byron -- Phillip Danault -- Andrew Shaw

Jacob De La Rose -- Torrey Mitchell -- Brian Flynn

Alexei Emelin -- Shea Weber

Mark Barberio -- Jeff Petry

Nathan Beaulieu -- Zach Redmond

Carey Price

Al Montoya

Scratched: Daniel Carr, Ryan Johnston

Injured: Brendan Gallagher (hand), Andrei Markov (groin), David Desharnais (knee), Greg Pateryn (ankle)

 

Status report

Fehr returns after he was left out of the lineup for three straight games. "He's a versatile guy, he can play center, he can play the wing, can kill penalties, he can play in a checking capacity," Sullivan said. "He's done that for us all year long this year and last year as well. So we have full confidence he'll step in our lineup and fill the role that we need him to play to help us win."... Dumoulin wore a no-contact jersey at the morning skate. ... Therrien said that Markov is making slow progress in his recovery.

 

Who's hot

Malkin, who has a four-game point streak, has scored four goals in his past two games, including his first hat trick of the season Monday. He has 32 points in his past 23 games (13 goals, 19 assists). Crosby has a goal and four assists in his past two games. Sheary has scored five goals and two assists in his past six games. Schultz had four assists Monday. ... Pacioretty has scored 15 goals in his past 21 games. Danault has eight points (two goals, six assists) in his past seven games.

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