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Penguins vs. Canadiens Game Preview

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins

Home: 21-11-2-44
Road: 18-10-6-38

WHEN: March 12, 2011 - 7:00 pm   |   WHERE: CONSOL Energy Center
FSN  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
Montreal Canadiens
Home: 21-8-6-48

  Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Montreal Canadiens 
Lars Eller
C  -  #81
  7 Goals
  8 Assists
  15 Points
• Acquired from St. Louis with Ian Schultz last June in exchange for goaltender Jaroslav Halak.

• The 21-year-old winger has scored four of his seven goals in the last six games, including a two-goal effort in Montreal’s 4-1 win over Boston on Tuesday.

• The Rodovre, Denmark native was drafted by the Blues in the first round (14th overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
Michael Cammalleri
LW  -  #13
  15 Goals
  21 Assists
  36 Points
• Despite missing 12 games from Jan. 21 to Feb. 17 with an upper-body injury, Cammalleri’s 36 points rank him third (tied) in team scoring.

• Had the Penguins’ number last year in the playoffs, scoring seven goals in seven games to lead Montreal past Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals

• The 28-year-old forward has been scoring at a steady clip over his career, notching 373 points (173G-200A) thus far.
James Wisniewski
D  -  #20
  8 goals
  35 assists
  43 points
• Acquired by the Canadiens on Dec. 28, 2010 from the New York Islanders in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

• Has already tallied 22 points (5G-17A) in just 29 games in a Habs uniform, with two of those five goals coming in his last five games.

• His 43 total points (8G-35A) ranks seventh among NHL defenseman, with 25 of those (including seven of his eight goals) coming on the man-advantage.
It’s been an emotional week for the Montreal Canadiens, as they lost 22-year-old forward Max Pacioretty for an indefinite amount of time on Tuesday after he suffered a severe concussion and fractured vertebra after a hit from Boston’s Zdeno Chara sent him colliding into a stanchion. The young winger had been heating up, notching four goals in the five games prior to Tuesday’s tilt.

The Canadiens also saw their five-game win streak end on Thursday against St. Louis. Jaroslav Halak, who led Montreal to the Eastern Conference Finals this year, earned the win between the pipes as he stopped 27 of 28 shots in a 4-1 Blues victory.

Montreal comes to CONSOL Energy Center Saturday afternoon looking to rebound from that loss and rekindle the magic that saw them outscore their opponents by a 19-7 margin over their past five games before Friday. They’re four points behind Boston for the Northeast Division lead and rank sixth in the conference with 81 points.

Carey Price has developed into the dependable goaltender the Canadiens hoped he would be when they sent Halak to St. Louis in the offseason. Price has shouldered quite a workload between the pipes, playing a league-high 62 games and facing 1,796 shots, the second-highest total in the NHL. But the 23-year-old netminder doesn’t seem fazed, as he has earned an NHL-leading (tied) 32 wins, is second (tied) with seven shutouts, is sixth (tied) with a .923 save percentage and is seventh (tied) with a 2.33 goals-against average.

While Price’s season has been interspersed with hot and cold streaks, the young goalie seems to be hitting his stride again as the playoffs loom, as he had won four-straight decisions prior to Friday’s loss.
  • Pittsburgh has gone 1-1-1 this season against the Canadiens. The Penguins dropped a 3-2 decision on Oct. 9 at CONSOL Energy Center and lost 2-1 in a shootout on Jan. 6 at the Bell Centre. Jordan Staal’s first three points (1G-2A) of the season led the way to a 5-2 Pittsburgh victory at the Bell Centre on Jan. 12.
  • With a victory Saturday the Penguins will finish with a winning record against the Canadiens for the fifth time in the past six seasons. Pittsburgh has posted a 13-7-3 record against the Canadiens since the start of the 2005-06 season.
  • The Penguins will celebrate the franchise’s 200th consecutive sellout (including the postseason) on Saturday against Montreal. Pittsburgh has sold out each of the past four regular seasons as part of a sellout streak that began with a 5-4 shootout victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 14, 2007 at Mellon Arena. The first 165 sellouts came across the street at Mellon Arena, which had a seating capacity of 16,940. This season, including today, the team has sold out all 18,087 seats at CONSOL Energy Center for each of their first 35 home games.
  • Since the sellout streak began, 3,437, 909 fans have seen the Penguins in action, an average of 17,276 per game. The Penguins surpassed the three-million mark in attendance during the streak on Nov. 17, 2010 against Vancouver.
  • Through the first 199 games of the streak the Penguins have an overall record of 123-57-19 (.666 pct), including a 104-47-19 (.668 pct.) regular-season mark and a 19-10 (.655 pct.) postseason record.


Ignite the Power Play: Although the Penguins have won their last two games, they haven’t converted on the power play in 10 games – including a five-on-three opportunity against Buffalo on Tuesday. While the Penguins have gone 2-0-2 in their last five contests and continue to stymie other team’s power plays with their top-ranked penalty kill unit, scoring on the man-advantage would give Pittsburgh a bit more breathing room and could be the difference maker as the regular season winds down and the playoff race tightens up.

Get the Scorers Scoring:
James Neal exploded for a two-point effort on Tuesday against the Sabres, evening the score at 1-1 before feeding Zbynek Michalek for the game winner. Neal, whose 22 goals rank first among healthy Penguins, had tallied just once in the 17 contests prior to Tuesday. The team has won both games that he and Alex Kovalev, acquired from their respective teams to add some scoring punch, have gotten on the board. They’ll need to continue to put pucks in the net to help the Penguins capture points down the stretch.

F Arron Asham, concussion (IR)
F Mike Comrie, hip (IR)
F Sidney Crosby, concussion (IR)
F Nick Johnson, concussion (IR)
F Evgeni Malkin, torn ACL and torn MCL (out for the season)
D Brooks Orpik, hand (4 weeks)
F Eric Tangradi, concussion (IR)

F Mathieu Darche, groin (day-to-day)
D Josh Gorges, knee (out for the season)
D Andrei Markov, knee (out for the season)
F Max Pacioretty, severe concussion and fractured vertebra (indefinitely)
D Jaroslav Spacek, knee (3 to 5 weeks)
Crosby (32) Gionta (24)
Letang (38) Plekanec (32)
Crosby (66) Plekanec (52)
Rupp (116) Subban (90)
Crosby (+20) Plekanec (+13)
Crosby (10) Pacioretty (7)
Cooke (3)
Three tied with (1)
Fleury (30-16-5)
Price (32-22-6)
Johnson (2.24) Price (2.33)
Fleury (.919) Price (.923)

James Neal - Neal scored his first goal in a Penguins uniform and added an assist on Zbynek Michalek’s game-winning goal to power Pittsburgh past Buffalo, 3-1, on Tuesday. Neal also factored into the Penguins’ third goal with a fantastic defensive effort, when he hustled to catch up to a Sabres clearing attempt and kept it in the zone, which led directly to Mark Letestu’s tally. Neal now has 22 goals on the season, which leads all active Penguins.
Andrei Kostitsyn - Kostitsyn recently enjoyed a seven-game scoring streak from Feb. 22 to March 8 that ended Thursday against St. Louis. The 26-year-old forward, who had been held pointless in the 10 games prior to the beginning of his streak, tallied three goals and six assists for a total of nine points over that span. His 38 points (16G-22A) rank second on the squad.

Eye of the Tiger 
What the Penguins Are Saying About the 200th Straight Sellout 
Penguins to Play Before 200th Straight Home Sellout Saturday vs. Montreal at CONSOL Energy Center 
Penguins Report: 3/11/11 
The French Connection

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Author: Michelle Crechiolo
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