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Pittsburgh starts Murray in goal; Kovalchuk won't make Canadiens debut

by Sean Farrell / Independent Correspondent

PENGUINS (24-11-5) at CANADIENS (18-17-6)



The Game

Ilya Kovalchuk will not make his Montreal Canadiens debut against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Bell Centre on Saturday.

The forward did not take part in the morning skate after agreeing to terms with Montreal on Friday. Defenseman Marco Scandella will make his Canadiens debut after he was acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.

Kovalchuk will likely make his Canadiens debut against the Winnipeg Jets on Monday. The 36-year-old had nine points (three goals, six assists) in 17 games with the Los Angeles Kings this season and was placed on unconditional waivers Dec. 18 and had his contract terminated.

Montreal will try to avoid extending its longest losing streak of the season to five games.

Matt Murray will start for the Penguins, who are 7-1-1 in their past nine.


Players to Watch

Penguins forward Bryan Rust has 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in his past 11 games.

Canadiens forward Max Domi has 11 points (six goals, five assists) during an eight-game point streak.


They said it

"We're paying attention to details, I think we're a lot more difficult to play against. I think our consistency of play has improved dramatically this season. So really, it boils down to commitment and I give our players a lot of credit." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan

"The guys are competing hard. We came out of the last game without a point even though we probably deserved two. So there's some frustration, but when you see that your general manager is trying to help the team in bringing in some small changes and a bit of help here and there it's encouraging." -- Canadiens coach Claude Julien


Penguins projected lineup

Alex Galchenyuk -- Evgeni Malkin -- Bryan Rust

Dominik Simon -- Jared McCann -- Patric Hornqvist

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

Dominik Kahun -- Joseph Blandisi -- Thomas Di Pauli

Jack Johnson -- Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson -- John Marino

Juuso Riikola -- Chad Ruhwedel

Matt Murray

Emil Larmi

Scratched: Kevin Czuczman

Injured: Sidney Crosby (core muscle surgery), Nick Bjugstad (core muscle surgery), Brian Dumoulin (ankle surgery), Justin Schultz (lower body), Jake Guentzel (shoulder surgery), Sam Lafferty (illness)


Canadiens projected lineup

Tomas Tatar -- Phillip Danault -- Nick Cousins

Artturi Lehkonen -- Max Domi -- Nick Suzuki 

Ryan Poehling -- Jesperi Kotkaniemi -- Jordan Weal

Lukas Vejdemo -- Nate Thompson -- Dale Weise 

Ben Chiarot -- Shea Weber

Victor Mete -- Jeff Petry

Marco Scandella -- Cale Fleury

Carey Price

Charlie Lindgren

Scratched: Ilya Kovalchuk, Christian Folin, Brett Kulak

Injured: Brendan Gallagher (concussion), Paul Byron (upper body), Joel Armia (hand), Jonathan Drouin (wrist), Matthew Peca (knee)


Status report

Di Pauli will make his NHL debut after he was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League. … Larmi was recalled from Wheeling of the ECHL after Casey DeSmith misplaced his passport. … Tristan Jarry is starting Sunday and did not make the trip.


Stat pack

Malkin has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in his past 10 games. … Petry has nine points (three goals, six assists) in his past six games.

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