Preview Game #78

Canadiens vs. Pittsburgh

PPG Paints Arena– March 31st 2018 – 7:05pm

Season Records – Canadiens – 77 GP (28-37-12) 68pts. 27th in the league. Pittsburgh – 78GP (44-28-6) 94pts. Second in Metropolitan Division.

Last Ten Games – Canadiens (3-6-1) Pittsburgh (5-3-2)

Home/Away – Canadiens on the road (10-24-4) Pittsburgh at home (28-8-2)

Lineup Changes

….Antti Niemi vs. Matt Murray

….David Schlemko returns to the Canadiens lineup (first game since March 3rd). Mike Reilly will be a healthy scratch along with LW Kerby Rychel and C Byron Froese.

…. Rychel was recalled by Canadiens Friday from Laval. Has been issued #45.


….This is the third and final meeting, all in a span of sixteen days. @Bell Centre March 15th Pittsburgh-5 Canadiens-3. Hornqvist 2 goals, 1 assist. Lehkonen, Byron, Deslauriers for the Canadiens. Niemi allows 4 goals on 38 shots. @Pittsburgh March 21st Pittsburgh-5 Canadiens-3. Jake Guentzel 1g, 2a; Crosby & Evgeni Malkin 1g, 1a each; for Canadiens de la Rose,Scherbak & Drouin. Price s. DeSmith.

….This is the third straight time the Canadiens are catching the Penguins in a back-to-back games situation. On March 15th and 21st it was the second half of the doubleheader. This game will be the first of two in 24 hours. The Penguins are 8-7-2 in the first half this season.

….The Penguins are in position to sweep the season series against the Canadiens for only the second time in their history. They were 3-0 vs. Montreal in 2012-13.

….The Penguins have won four straight vs. Montreal. In that stretch they have outscored the Canadiens 18-10.

….Since the lockout the Canadiens are 3-4-2 at Pittsburgh and 5-8-4 overall against them.

.Jonathan Drouin has 7 points including 5 goals in 8 career games vs. Pittsburgh. Brendan Gallagher 7 points in 16 games (2 goals); Alex Galchenyuk 1 goal 5 assists in 14 games. Max Pacioretty (injured) has 21 points (12 goals) in 28 games.

….Evgeni Malkin has at least a point in 15 of his last 17 overall games against the Canadiens – 23 points (7g, 16a). this season he has 2 goals, 2 assists vs. the Canadiens and has 46 points (including 16 goals) in 36 career games vs. Montreal.

….In 34 career games vs. the Canadiens Sidney Crosby has 43 points (18g, 25a). Since the lockout he has 7 goals, 8 assists in 15 Canadiens games.

….Patrik Hornqvist has four points in two games vs. the Canadiens this season (3g, 1a) and 6 goals, 4 assists in his last nine against them.

.Phil Kessel‘s 51 career points vs. the Canadiens are the second most against any team (55 vs. Ottawa).

….Antti Niemi has been in 22 career games vs. Pittsburgh with a 6-8-4 record; 1 shutout; 3.02GAA and .916 save%. (This season he was on the losing end of a 5-3 decision at the Bell Centre March 15th, allowing 4 goals on 38 shots)

….Matt Murray has been in one game against Montreal with a 1-0-0 record; 1.00GAA and .950 save%. His lone appearance vs. the Canadiens was a 4-1 win at the Bell Centre January 18th of last season.

About the Canadiens

….This is the first of back-to-back games for both teams. In the opening game of the doubleheaders this season the Canadiens are 7-6-0.

….The Canadiens have won two of their last three. Prior to that they had lost nine of the previous ten.

….The Canadiens have won five of their last 23. All five of those wins have come against teams not currently in a playoff position.

….The Canadiens have scored an average of 2.21 goals per game on the road while allowing 3.50. Overall the Canadiens’ offence is ranked 29th and it’s defence 23rd.

….The Canadiens come into the game 27th in the league standings; 29th in the league offense; 24th on defense; 31st on the penalty kill.: 21st in shots allowed.

….The Canadiens have lost ten of their last thirteen games (3-8-2); 18 of their last 24 (6-12-6) and have also lost 21 of their last 29 (8-15-6).

….No team in the league has given up more power play goals than the Canadiens (62). 44 of the 62 power play goals-against have come on the road.

….The Canadiens are 4-8-2 in March. The Canadiens have had a losing record in five of the six months so far this season.

….Antti Niemi has been in 17 games as a member of the Canadiens – 15 of them starts. His record is 6-4-4 with 2.25GAA and .936 save%. 12 of his 15 starts with the Canadiens have been listed as “quality starts”. (In a “quality start” a goaltender must have a save% of at least .917, stop 88.5% of shots while allowing two goals or fewer).

….Brendan Gallagher has four goals his last three games and five points last four. He has 9 goals 4 assists his last 15 games. He has 25 points his last 30 games (14g, 11a). 30 goals and 49 points are both career highs.

….Paul Byron has 19 goals, three away from last season’s career-best 22 goals .

….Alex Galchenyuk has two goals, six assists his last eight games and fourteen points his last 15 games (6g, 8a). Galchenyuk has 48 points, one behind Gallagher’s team-lead.

….Jonathan Drouin has 5 goals, 10 assists his last 27 games. Nine of his 42 points have in his last nine games.

….With the return of David Schlemko, there are now seven names on the Canadiens injury list. With this game man-games lost will now reach 348. Since the statistic has been kept, each time the Canadiens man-games-lost total reached over 300, the team missed the playoffs.

About the Penguins

….The Penguins offence is ranked 6th in the league in goals per game (3.27) but are 21st on defence (3.06).

….This is the third straight time the Canadiens are catching the Penguins in a back-to-back games situation. On March 15th and 21st it was the second half of the doubleheader. This game will be the first of two in 24 hours. They play the Capitals in Washington Sunday.

….The Penguins are coming off a 4-3 OT win at New Jersey Thursday. The Penguins have not won two in a row in eleven games.

…..The only team that has won more home games this season than Pittsburgh (28) is Winnipeg (30).

….A win over the Canadiens would clinch the Penguins 12th consecutive playoff appearance which will be a franchise record. They qualified for the playoffs 11 straight years from 1990-2001. The 12 consecutive years wpuld be the NHL’s longest string of consecutive playoff appearances.

….Matt Murray has a nine-game home unbeaten streak (8-0-1).

….Patric Hornqvist and Evgeni Malkin are tied for the team lead with 14 power play goals. Hornqvist has scored five of the Penguins last eight PPG’s.

….Hornqvist has reached 25 goals for the fourth time in his career. He has ten points, (7g, 3a) in his last ten games including the three point game vs. the Canadiens March 15th.

….Malkin is third in the NHL scoring race, ten points off Connor McDavid’s league lead. He’s three points behind Alex Ovechkin for the league goal scoring lead.

….Starting with his spectacular baseball-style goal vs. the Canadiens March 21st Sidney Crosby has scored goals in each of his last five games. (5g. 3a) It is his second five game goalscoring streak of the season.

….Crosby needs two goals to reach 30 for the third straight season and ninth time in his career. Mario Lemieux holds the club record of eleven 30-goals seasons. Jaromir Jager reached 30 ten times.


….Antti Niemi‘s season record (with Pittsburgh/Florida/Montreal) is 6-8-4 in 22 appearances with a 3.02GAA and .916 save%.

….Matt Murray 46GP (25-15-3) 2.91GAA .907save%

Special Teams – Power Play – Montreal ranked 13th (48/230) 20.9% Pittsburgh ranked first (62/243) 74.5%. Penalty Killing – Montreal ranked 31st (62/243) 74.5%. Pittsburgh ranked 19th (51/252) 79.8%.

Canadiens Lines & Pairings

41-Paul Byron 92-Jonathan Drouin 11-Brendan Gallagher

27-Alex Galchenyuk 25-Jacob de la Rose 62-Artturi Lehkonen

38-Nikita Scherbak 49-Logan Shaw 54-Charles Hudon

20-Nicolas Deslauriers 34-Mike McCarron 43-Daniel Carr

21-David Schlemko 26-Jeff Petry

22-Karl Alzner 58-Noah Juulsen

8-Jordie Benn 36-Brett Lernout

37-Antti Niemi

Healthy Scratches – C Byron Froese; LW Kerby Rychel; D Mike Reilly.

Injuries – RW Andrew Shaw (concussion); D Rinat Valiev (lower body); C Phillip Danault (concussion); LW Max Pacioretty (knee); D Victor Mete (broken finger); D Shea Weber (IR broken foot); RW Alex Hemsky (IR concussion)

Pittsburgh Forward lines & Pairings

59-Jake Guentzel 87-Sidney Crosby 17-Bryan Rust

62-Carl Hagelin 71-Evgeni Malkin 81-Phil Kessel

43-Conor Sheary 15-Riley Sheahan 72-Patric Hornqvist

34-Tom Kuhnhackl 16-Josh Jooris 46-Zach Aston-Reese

6-Jamie Oleksiak 58-Kris Letang

8-Brian Dumoulin 4-Justin Schultz

3-Olli Maatta 2-Chad Ruhwedel

30-Matt Murray

Injuries – C Derrick Brassard (groin); RW Carter Rowney (upper body)

Healthy Scratches – D Matt Hunwick; C Dominik Simon;