The schedule maker saved the meetings between the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins until the final few weeks of the 2017-18 season. The defending Stanley Cup champions roll into Montreal for the first and only time this season, and will host the Habs two times before the end of the month.
The Canadiens are entering tonight’s game on the back of a victory over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. Another goal from Brendan Gallagher as he builds upon the career high he has already set, a highlight-reel goal from Nikita Scherbak, and two more from Artturi Lehkonen gave the Habs the offence they needed, while former Stars netminder Antti Niemi put in another great performance in goal to secure a 4-2 victory.
Niemi could get the call to face another of the teams he’s previously played for, with a chance to get some redemption for what was a very poor showing as a member of the Penguins at the beginning of this season. After allowing 16 goals in just three starts with the team, resulting in a save percentage below .800, fans at PPG Paints Arena should see a completely different player in the visitors’ net tonight.
How to watch
Puck drop: 7:30 PM EDT / 4:30 PM PDT
In Canada: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the US: NBCSN
In the Penguins region: ATTSN-PT
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL GameCentre Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|1-1-1||H2H Record (16-17)||2-1-0|
The Penguins recently had a win over the Stars of their own, holding them to just 18 shots on Monday. They’ve since lost to the New York Rangers, however, blowing a two-goal first-period lead to lose in overtime last night. The loss cost them a chance to slot into the top seed in the Metropolitan Division, instead moving into a tie with the Washington Capitals.
Pittsburgh’s offence has been led by Evgeni Malkin this season. The centre has received little fanfare, as the main focus has been on Nikita Kucherov at the top of the scoring race, but Malkin is just four points back of his compatriot, with 87 points on the season.
Malkin is just one goal shy of reaching 40 for the first time since 2011-12, probably not coincidentally in the first season he’s projected to play at least 70 games since that pre-lockout campaign.
He isn’t the lone Penguin among the top scorers in the league, joined by Phil Kessel (78) and Sidney Crosby (76) on a team that ranked fifth in goals for before last night’s games.
Failure to contain the opposition’s top players has been a theme for a Canadiens squad that struggles in its defensive zone, and especially on the penalty kill. A match versus a potent offensive team like the Penguins, one that currently holds the top power-play efficiency in the NHL, scoring once every four chances they get, could be a recipe for a difficult night for the home side.