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Pens/Habs Game Preview: One more game against Montreal

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Everything you need to know ahead of the Montreal/Pittsburgh Saturday night game

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Quick preview tonight as you hopefully are getting ready to join us at the Souper Bowl!

Basics

Montreal Canadiens (28-37-12) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (44-28-6)

Start time: 7:00 PM

How to watch: Nationally on NHL Network, locally on AT&T Sportsnet, in Canada on TVAS and Sportsnet360

SBN friends: Habs Eyes on the Prize

Eye on the standings

In the only game of consquence for the Pens last night, Carolina went on the road and defeated the Washington Capitals 4-1. The Caps remain 5 points ahead of Pittsburgh for first place in the Metropolitan division with both teams having 4 games remaining. The two teams will meet in the Burgh tomorrow for the most crucial game of the season for the division championship. Two wins this weekend and the Pens could be but 1 point out of first place! However, two losses this weekend would mean Washington clinches 1st place.

The Columbus Blue Jackets (one point behind the Pens in 3rd place) are out in Vancouver tonight. The Flyers (4th place, two points behind the Pens) are off tonight but host Boston in an afternoon game tomorrow. the Devils (5th place, five points back of the Pens) host the Islanders tonight.

Tiebreakers possibly aside, I believe the Penguins will clinch a playoff berth tonight if they win AND if the Florida Panthers lose this afternoon to Boston. So that’s fun.

The home dawgs

The Pens were off yesterday so there wasn’t much news or movement from the team. We may find out more about Derick Brassard (day to day with what’s believed to be a groin injury), though it would make sense to be cautious and keep him out.

Defensively non-fan favorite Matt Hunwick got back into the lineup and didn’t play terribly and the team won, so expect him to probably be playing again.

No news yet about the Pens goalie of choice tonight, but it might make sense to get backup Casey DeSmith the start tonight vs. Montreal, so that starter Matt Murray is fresh and ready for the more important game tomorrow against Washington. DeSmith also played and played pretty well against Montreal 10 days ago on 3/21, earning a 5-3 win in what has been his last game played to date.

And in the other corner, the Canadiens

Montreal has been off since Monday (just a terrible schedule this year for everyone it seems) so it will be interesting to see if they are more rested or rusty especially early.

EOTP reports that Antti Niemi will be starting tonight for the Habs, so the goalie who started out as the Pens backup will see his former team one more time this season. Niemi also played 10 days ago in the 5-3 Pittsburgh win, allowing 4 goals (Pens scored on EN to cap it off).

The Habs don’t have anything to play for in the standing but their lineup is quite young with almost 10 players 22-years old or younger. So these hungry players are trying to earn roles for next season and advance their own careers so the Penguins shouldn’t think simply showing up will mean winning. Montreal beat Detroit 4-2 on Monday, and Detroit responded in kind by beating the Pens on Tuesday, we might remember.

A win tonight gives the Penguins a season-sweep in the three games against Montreal tonight and extends their push towards first place. It’s Saturday night against a Canadian opponent, a prime time game for all the Canadian players to know they have a big spotlight in their home country. Let’s hope this all adds up to an invested, strong effort for Pittsburgh.