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Game Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins @ Montreal Canadiens 12/13/2023 - Lines, how to watch

The Pens get a chance to build on the momentum of last night’s win with a game in Montreal

Pittsburgh Penguins v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images

Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (12-12-3, 27 points, 7th place Metropolitan Division) @ Montreal Canadiens (12-13-3, 27 points, 6th place Atlantic Division)

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: SportsNet Pittsburgh, RDS and Sportsnet in Canada, streaming on ESPN+

Pens’ Path Ahead: After tonight, the rest of the month slackens for the Pens - who only have five games in the next two weeks. They’ll stay on the road to meet Toronto on Saturday night before returning home to see Marc-Andre Fleury and the Wild next Monday, followed by two more days off before the Carolina Hurricanes come to town next Thursday.

Opponent Track: Montreal will be well-rested having been inactive the last two days. They’re 1-1-1 in the last three and 2-2-1 in the month of December, with some offensive droughts along the way. The Habs have only scored three total goals (not counting shootout) in their last three games.

Season Series: Montreal comes to Pittsburgh on Saturday January 27th for the next matchup between these teams and then they’ll meet again in PA on February 22nd to close out the three-game set.

Hidden Stat: Per Bob Grove, Jeff Carter became the 24th Penguin player to score a PPG and SHG in the same game last night, and the first since Jake Guentzel almost five years ago (Jan. 12, 2019)

Hidden Stat II: The Penguins are 3-0-0 this year on the second game of back-to-backs.

Getting to know the Canadiens

Lines from yesterday’s practice


Cole Caufield - Nick Suzuki- Juraj Slafkovsky

Sean Monahan - Jake Evans - Josh Anderson

Joel Armia - Christian Dvorak - Brendan Gallagher

Michael Pezzetta - Mitchell Stephens - Jesse Ylonen


Mike Matheson / David Savard

Kaiden Guhle / Justin Barron

Jayden Struble / Jonathan Kovacevic

Goalies: Samuel Montembeault, Jake Allen and Cayden Primeau

Possible scratches: Tanner Pearson, Gustav Lindstrom

IR: Kirby Dach, Alex Newhook, Jordan Harris, Raphael Harvey-Pinard, Chris Wideman, Carey Price (LTIR)

—Super young Habs club, the defense’s average age is 25.4 even with Savard (33) and Matheson (29) to bring up the average. The forwards average to 26.5 right now, with a few key youngsters injured they have more experience there with a handful of 27-31 year old key players.

—Unwilling to waive Primeau, Montreal has kept the awkward three goalie arrangement and rotation going this year to give all opportunities to run with it. Montembeault, who recently signed a three-year extension, might be the key figure for the future in net.

Player stats

(via hockeydb)

—Without a double-digit goal scorer to this point, no Canadien player is on pace to score more than 23 goals this season.

—It’s getting clear on the “timing is everything” front that Montreal won the lottery in the wrong year. Without out even litigating if it was the optimal choice available, Slafkovsky looks like more of a Lafreniere first overall than the instant impact, no doubt star of a Connor, Connor, Sid type of franchise player. The Habs are giving him more ice time as of late (17-18 minutes in each of the last four) but Slafkovsky is also without a point in the last six games. It’s only the start of his draft+2 and he’s still plenty young enough to develop into his frame and potential but it just goes to show the uncontrollable aspect about when a team is bad can be as important as anything.

—While some like Josh Anderson and Brendan Gallagher are often on wish lists for trades, Sean Monahan might be the ideal trade target. Not old (29), a versatile, effective player and an expiring, reasonable contract ($1.8m cap hit), he’s a guy that could be a valuable trade pickup by the deadline for someone out there.

And now for the Penguins

Projected lines


Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Drew O’Connor

Reilly Smith - Evgeni Malkin - Valtteri Puustinen

Radim Zohorna - Lars Eller - Vinnie Hinostroza

Jansen Harkins - Jonathan Gruden - Jeff Carter


Ryan Graves / Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson / Erik Karlsson

P.O. Joseph / John Ludvig

Goalies: Alex Nedeljkovic (Tristan Jarry started last night)

Potential scratches: Marc Johnstone, Ryan Shea, Bryan Rust (week-to-week injury)

IR: Rickard Rakell (upper body injury), Chad Ruhwedel (lower body injury), Matt Nieto (lower body injury), Noel Acciari (lower body injury)

—Rakell took in the morning skate yesterday, but isn’t eligible to return from IR until the game after this one. If he even is cleared and deemed ready by then. The good news is it shouldn’t be too much longer that he’s out, but that day for a return won’t be today.