The end result wasn’t quite as bad after Monday’s game versus the Florida Panthers as it had been on Saturday versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, with just two goals surrendered instead of four. The play on the ice was largely the same, however, as the Montreal Canadiens weren’t able to match the effort of their host.
For a second consecutive game, the Habs were held off the scoresheet. Their goals-per-game average has fallen to 2.47, placing them in the bottom three in offence and not so far away from ranking as the 31st team.
The drought has put what had seemed to be an inevitable run to 30 goals for Brendan Gallagher in jeopardy. He has now gone three games without scoring, and with the Habs struggling to get offensive zone time, he may need to take matters into his own hands over the final nine games to reach that milestone.
After a spectacular performance in a losing cause on Monday, Antti Niemi gives way for tonight’s game, as Carey Price will play his first game since being forced out with a concussion. The starter will be going for his 16th win of the season.
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Tale of the Tape
The Pittsburgh Penguins also saw their starting netminder come back from a concussion last night. In the team’s first game since playing the Canadiens back on March 15, Matt Murray stepped into the crease after missing the previous nine games. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t a successful return as his side fell 4-1 to the lowest-ranked team in the Metropolitan Division: the New York Islanders.
Despite being in a battle for top spot in the Metro, the Penguins aren’t assured of home-ice avantage in the first round of the playoffs, or even a post-season spot. A win by the Columbus Blue Jackets moved them into a tie with the Pens for the second seed in the division, and a convincing 7-2 decision in the Florida Panthers’ favour placed the Atlantic team just six points back.
Despite the Canadiens’ offensive struggles, they’re not a team that can be dismissed by the Penguins. The Habs scored three goals against the Pens on Thursday night — the last time they’ve legally beaten an NHL goaltender — and that knowledge may help Montreal to snap the two-game drought they’re currently experiencing.
Nicolas Deslauriers is the last goal-scorer the Canadiens have seen, at the time getting his team into a tie with Penguins. The Habs have gone seven periods since without posting a number on the scoreboard, and will be looking to change that at PPG Paint Arena this evening.