For the third time in the month of March, the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins will face each other, with the final game of the season series taking place at PPG Paints Arena. The Penguins will attempt to sweep Montreal with another victory on Saturday night.
The Canadiens haven’t played since Monday; a game that saw Brendan Gallagher score two goals to reach 30 for the first time in his career. With his milestone achieved, attention shifts to Paul Byron’s quest to hit 20 goals for a second consecutive year. He currently sits at 19, with one of those tallies coming in the first meeting between these teams on March 15.
It was one of five special-teams goals that have been scored in the two games so far, and serves as the Canadiens’ only power-play goal. The Penguins have used the games versus Montreal to boost what was already the league’s top man advantage, going three-for-five in the two games.
How to watch
Puck drop: 7:00 PM EDT / 4:00 PM PDT
In Canada: Sportsnet 360, CityTV (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the USA: NHL Network
In the Penguins region: ATTSN-PT
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL GameCentre Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
The other special-teams goal was scored short-handed by Nikita Scherbak after he was left with nearly half the ice to himself after a poor line change. It serves as a microcosm of the Penguins’ season; one filled with defensive lapses, but more than enough offensive firepower to make up for them.
The Canadiens and Penguins are fairly similar in the amount of goals they’ve allowed this season. Pittsburgh sits 21st with 3.06 goals against per game played, while Montreal is two spots lower, giving up 3.10. The clubs couldn’t be much farther apart in the goals-scored department, with the Penguins third in the NHL at 255 scored, and the Habs third-worst with just 194.
Pittsburgh has three players with 85 points on the year, which is something quite rare in the current era. Evgeni Malkin leads with way with 93 points, and while he has contributed consistent offence all season long, it’s Sidney Crosby who has been the hottest scorer as the playoffs approach.
The mid-air forehand-to-backhand goal he scored the last time the Habs visited his home rink was the start of a current five-game goal streak for the captain. His latest was a display of his baseball skills once again, batting in the overtime winner on Thursday night.
Antti Niemi will be tasked with shutting them all down, getting the road start on the weekend back-to-back. Despite the identical 5-3 losses, the Canadiens competed well in the two games played so far, and a stellar performance from the backup netminder with another inspired performance in front of him would give him a second chance to defeat a team that dismissed him earlier in the season.