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Here are five things you should know about the Canadiens-Penguins game at PPG Paints Arena on Friday (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio).
The matchup: This is the last of three games between these teams. They split the first two games with each team winning on the road. The Canadiens, who are seven points out of a playoff spot, are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games, but they are trending in the wrong direction and are desperate for a win after losing their last two starts. Going into Thursday’s action, the Penguins were second in the Metropolitan Division. They trailed the Washington Capitals by three points, but they also enjoyed a game in hand.
Who’s in goal? This is the first game in a back-to-back series for the Canadiens, who are home to the Dallas Stars on Saturday night. The smart money says Claude Julien will go with Carey Price in Pittsburgh, but the tough decision will come Saturday. Does he stick with the overworked Price or does he roll the dice with Charlie Lindgren? Price has played 48 of 59 games this season and the Pittsburgh game will be his 10th start in 11 games. His last day off was Feb. 4 because he had the flu. That opened the door for Lindgren, who beat the Devils 5-4 in a shootout for his first win of the season.
Where’s the beef? In the wake of Wednesday’s 4-1 loss in Boston, Julien noted the team needs more production from some players who are supposed to be scorers. Julien didn’t mention any names, but there are a few players who stand out because their names haven’t been appearing on the scoresheet. Start with Max Domi, who was the team’s leading scorer last season. He has one goal and two assists in his last 15 games. Joel Armia has two goals in 10 games, while Artturi Lehkonen has scored once in 10 games. Jonathan Drouin — no points in three games — gets a pass because he’s coming off an injury, but he has only two shots in those games.
Rutherford jumps the gun: Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford has a reputation for astute deals leading up to the trade deadline and he made another one this week when he acquired Jason Zucker from Minnesota to replace the injured Jake Guentzel on the top line. Rutherford wasn’t afraid to part with a first-round draft choice to fill a need and he also corrected a previous mistake when he threw in former Canadien Alex Galchenyuk .
The usual suspects: The Penguins boast one of the NHL’s most potent 1-2 punches up the middle with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Both players have had to deal with injuries this season, but the bad news for the Canadiens in that they are both healthy. Malkin, who has been limited to 42 games, is the team’s leading scorer with 48 points, including 18 goals. He has 17 goals and 53 points in 42 career games against Montreal. Crosby, who missed two months following sports hernia surgery, has been averaging better than a point a game with 10 goals and 31 points in 27 games. He has 19 goals and 49 points in 39 games against the Canadiens.
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