The Pittsburgh Penguins (14-8-5) have won four straight and have a struggling opponent teed up to achieve their fifth consecutive win. On Tuesday, they will host the Montreal Canadiens (6-20-3) at PPG Paints Arena.
One of the Canadiens’ six wins was over the Penguins as Jake Allen made 47 saves in a 6-3 Canadiens win in Pittsburgh on Nov. 27.
The Penguins shut down the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. Zach Aston-Reese set up Brock McGinn for the game-winner in a 1-0 shutout win. They aren’t all pretty, but the game was entertaining despite the (lack of) score. Casey DeSmith earned his second win and first shutout this season.
Montreal is winless in six games (0-5-1) as the organization is amidst a great transition. Since the teams last saw each other, Montreal ownership cut loose GM Marc Bergevin and much of the front office. Owner Geoff Molson hired Jeff Gorton as the President of Hockey Operations. The Canadiens are searching for a GM and will likely need a new head coach shortly after.
However, Montreal goalie Carey Price recently returned to practice with the team after 30 days in the NHL players’ program for personal help.
Tristan Jarry will start for the Penguins. The brick wall has a 12-5-4 record with a 1.92 GAA and a .934 save percentage. He’s easily an All-Star and has been the Penguins MVP this season.
What to Watch:
The Pittsburgh Penguins penalty kill has been impenetrable. They lead the league at 92.4%. The power play has “improved” to 29th in the league but is up to 14.9%, which is a bit better than the 10% rock-bottom rate of last month.
The Penguins forecheck controlled recent games. On Saturday, they contained Anaheim and had the Washington Capitals chasing their tail in the game before.
Montreal is the perfect team to forecheck, though their patience and defensive posture have presented some problems for the Penguins. The Penguins bombed away against Allen on Nov. 27 but didn’t get enough good scoring chances and didn’t play between the dots.
The Penguins must do more than puck possession and shots to beat Montreal. They need to play between the dots and get good rips instead of perimeter shots.
Circle one player who must play an A-game–Kasperi Kapanen. After a goal and banging performance against Washington, Kapanen shrank against Anaheim and didn’t have a shot on goal for 50 minutes.
The Penguins’ second line with Jeff Carter needs to find its footing soon, too. Jason Zucker has only 10 points (4-6-10) in 27 games. The line has been underwater in scoring chances, while the Penguins’ bottom six has not only held the fort but been on the right side of the puck, too. The bottom six have out-chanced their opponents in the four-game streak.
Montreal has many issues, including growing angst over 2021 playoff star Cole Caufield’s season of regression.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Rickard Rakell||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jason Zucker||Jeff Carter||Danton Heinen|
|Brock McGinn||Teddy Blueger||Evan Rodrigues|
|Mike Matheson||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Mark Friedman||Chad Ruhwedel|
Expected Canadiens Lines, Per Puck Pedia:
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
*In their last 13 games against Montreal, the Penguins have scored four or more goals eight times.
*Jason Zucker has had consistent success throughout his career against Montreal. In 14 career games, he has nine goals and 12 points.
*Only Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (9) has more goals against Atlantic Division opponents this season than Evan Rodrigues (7).
*The Penguins are 13-1-0 (.929%) when scoring first.
*The Penguins have allowed only four goals in their last four games and only 18 in the last 12 games.
*Tristan Jarry leads the league with a 1.92 GAA. He’s fourth in the league with a .934 save percentage.
*Kris Letang is one point shy of becoming the 43rd defenseman in NHL history to accumulate 600 points. He’s also looking to become the seventh active defenseman to accomplish this feat, along with Brent Burns (738), Zdeno Chara (668), Erik Karlsson (643), Duncan Keith (630), Ryan Suter (621), and Keith Yandle (610).
How to Watch:
TV: AT&T Sportsnet; Radio: 105.9 The X