The Penguins try to hit back at the hurting Habs who are on a seven-game losing streak but up 2-0 vs. Pittsburgh this year.
The Montreal Canadiens are having the worst run of luck out of any NHL team in recent memory. They've lost seven games in a row and have 14, yes 1-4, players on their injured list including some of their top stars like Cole Caulfield and Kirby Dach. Many of those players are out for the season. Montreal is once again in the running to win the number one overall draft pick for the second consecutive year at 28th in the league standings. And yet they've beaten the Pittsburgh Penguins twice this season in an unlikely twist.
The Penguins, on the opposing end of the spectrum, are staring down their 17th straight playoff bid and are currently in between games in a week of three meetings with fellow post-season contenders the New York Rangers. Pittsburgh wants to get a little retribution on the lowly old Habs for the embarrassment of losing to them twice already in 2022-23.
All the circumstances favor the Penguins on paper. From team health to the Canadiens being in their second game of a back-to-back series. But much like the prior two meetings this season, Montreal is perfectly positioned to play spoilers to the Pens' party. They have nothing to lose and are a team everyone is looking past which would tend to put a large chip on their shoulders.
Will the Pens finally vanquish their not-so-mighty foe tonight? Or will they look past Montreal towards the Rangers? We'll find out at 7!
Pens Game #67: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Montreal Canadiens
Date: March 14, 2023
Time: 7 PM (ET)
Place: Pittsburgh, PA
Venue: PPG Paints Arena
Penguins Broadcast: AT&T Sportsnet
Canadiens Broadcast: TSN2, RDS
Online Stream: ESPN+
Penguins Radio: 105.9 The X/Penguins Radio Network
Canadiens Radio: TSN 690-98.5FM
Records- PIT: 34-22-10, MTL: 26-35-6
Last 10- PIT: 7-2-1, MTL: 2-6-2
Streaks- PIT: 2 Wins, MTL: 7 Losses
Standings- PIT: 15th, MTL: 28th
Points- PIT: 78, MTL: 58
PIT: Eastern Conference #7, 1st Wildcard playoff spot.
MTL: Eastern Conference #15, Out of contention.
Season Series- 3-2 MTL
Series Goals For- PIT: 6, MTL: 8
Team Analytics Comparison:
Projected starting goalies:
-Tristan Jarry- #35
Bio Info: 6' 2", 194 lbs. DOB: 4/29/1995 (27). From: Surrey, BC.
Drafted: 2013- Rd 2, Pk 44 (PIT). Experience: 7th Season.
Record: 20-7-6, 2.86 GAA, .913 SV%
Career vs. MTL: 4-1-1, 2.33 GAA, .920 SV%
-Samuel Montembeault- #35
Bio Info: 6' 3", 199 lbs. DOB: 10/30/1996 (26). From: Becancour, QC.
Drafted: 2015- Rd 3, Pk 77 (FLA). Experience: 4th Season.
Record: 12-13-3, 3.28 GAA, .905 SV%
Career vs. PIT: 1-0-0, 2.18 GAA, .925 SV%
Dmitry Kulikov is now injured, which means two out of three of the Pens' recent trade acquisitions are sidelined with both Kulikov and Nick Bonino out.
The upside to losing Kulikov is that Pens' wunderkind defenseman P.O. Joseph is available as he's been a healthy scratch recently and will return to the lineup in his place.
Ryan Poehling is progressing and is back in full team practice and cleared to take contact. That's the last step to take in his recovery before he can rejoin the roster.
-Nick Bonino (F): lacerated kidney, week-to-week.
-Dmitry Kulikov (D): lower body, week-to-week.
-Ryan Poehling (F): LTIR, upper body, out until 3/14.
The projected Penguins lines for Tuesday, March 14, 2023, vs. the Montreal Canadiens:
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Alex Nylander
Drew O’Connor - Mikael Granlund - Rickard Rakell
Danton Heinen - Jeff Carter - Josh Archibald
Marcus Pettersson - Kris Letang
Brian Dumoulin - Jeff Petry
P.O. Joseph - Jan Rutta
PP1: Malkin, Crosby, Guentzel, Rakell, Letang
PP2: Carter, Rust, Zucker, Granlund, Petry
PK1: Bonino, Archibald, Dumoulin, Petry
PK2: Granlund, Rust, TBD, Rutta
Montreal is in the second half of a back-to-back scenario. They got absolutely shellacked by Colorado last night by a score of 8-4. The Avalanche scored four goals on the Habs in the first period alone.
Mike Matheson returns to Pittsburgh to play for the first time since the trade that sent him north to the Canadiens last summer in exchange for Jeff Petry and Ryan Poehling. He’ll no doubt be looking to send a message to the Pens that it was a mistake to give him up.
-Joel Armia (F): illness, day-to-day.
-Justin Barron (D): upper body, day-to-day.
-Paul Byron (F): LTIR, hip, out indefinitely.
-Cole Caufield (F): IR, shoulder, out for season.
-Kirby Dach (F): lower body, week-to-week.
-Christian Dvorak (F): lower body, day-to-day.
-Jake Evans (F): IR, lower body, week-to-week.
-Brendan Gallagher (F): IR, lower body, week-to-week.
-Jordan Harris (D): lower body, day-to-day.
-Sean Monahan (F): LTIR, foot, out indefinitely.
-Rem Pitlick (F): undisclosed, day-to-day/game-time decision.
-Carey Price (G): LTIR, knee, out for season.
-Juraj Slafkovsky (F): IR, lower body, out until mid-April.
-Arber Xhekaj (D): IR, upper body, out for season.
For The Penguins: Jason Zucker. For Jason Zucker every game is the self-proclaimed "best of the year" and he's indeed producing perhaps the best play of his career. Zucker extended his goal streak to four games on Sunday against the Rangers. He has five goals during that time. He also continued his run of nine goals in the last eight games. It's a great time to be Jason Zucker or to have him on your hockey team!
For The Canadiens: Alex Belzile. Belzile isn't the most well-known name on the Montreal bench but he's been one of their top performers recently. He's racked up five points in the last five games including a three-goal streak from March 5th to 9th. This is a major breakthrough for a 31-year-old player who's never stayed in the league long enough to play even half of a season. Alex Belzile is quite the late bloomer but it seems the Canadiens may have found an unexpected contributor in him.