Penguins-Canadiens Preview

Now it’s time for Sidney Crosby to go on the road.

Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins will begin what should be an

entertaining four-game trip Saturday night when they face the

Montreal Canadiens.

The Penguins superstar has seven points in three home games this

week in his return after missing nearly a year with post-concussion

symptoms. All of his three assists Friday came in the first period

as Pittsburgh (13-6-4) built a three-goal lead and cruised to a 6-3

victory over Ottawa.

“I had some good chances tonight that hopefully will go in

eventually,” said Crosby, who has failed to score a goal in his

last seven games at Bell Centre. “But yeah, the chances are there,

that’s what we want.”

What’s also notable about Crosby’s play is that he has eight

penalty minutes and has not shied away from contact. He mixed it up

with Ottawa’s Nick Foligno early in the third period, the start of

a brief dust-up in which they exchanged a couple of punches.

The big lead allowed the Penguins to experiment with the lines.

Crosby played alongside Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal for one

shift, failing to produce a goal but providing plenty of

opportunities.

“We play one shift, it’s three terrors, we surprised them,”

Malkin said. “We never played (together before) and had good

chances to score. I like it. It two great offensive guys who can

control the puck and make passes.”

Neither Crosby nor Malkin played when Pittsburgh defeated

Montreal (10-10-3) 3-1 on Oct. 20 in the first meeting this season.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves, improving to 7-3-0 with a 2.39

goals-against average in his last 10 starts against the

Canadiens.

The goalie is enjoying playing even more now that Pittsburgh has

its stars back.

“I’m glad they’re on my team,” said Fleury, who stopped 24 shots

in Friday’s win. “Those guys are so skilled, so talented, they work

hard at it and it’s fun for them it’s paying off for them.”

Fleury has started the first game and Brent Johnson the second

in Pittsburgh’s first three sets of back-to-back games. Johnson is

0-4-1 with a 3.35 GAA in five starts against Montreal.

Pittsburgh will also face the Rangers, Capitals and Hurricanes

on its trip that begins with this matchup of two of the best

penalty-killing units in the NHL. The Penguins rank second in the

league at 90.8 percent and the Canadiens third at 90.3.

Montreal has killed off 40 straight power-play chances entering

this contest, but the Canadiens’ power play came up empty on five

attempts and proved to be their undoing in Friday’s 3-1 loss at

Philadelphia.

“Our power play gave them momentum,” coach Jacques Martin told

the Canadiens’ official website. “We weren’t able to create scoring

chances.”

Carey Price has started both games in two of Montreal’s first

three sets of back-to-back contests. The Canadiens will have a

degree of extra rest since Friday’s defeat was played in the

afternoon, so Price could be back in goal to resume his stellar

home form.

Price had posted back-to-back home shutouts before making 17

saves but getting outdueled by Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas in

Monday’s 1-0 loss to Boston.