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Game Preview: Montreal Canadiens @ Pittsburgh Penguins 1/27/2024 - Lines, how to watch

The Pens are hoping to bounce back from last night’s overtime loss to the Florida Panthers.

Montreal Canadiens v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Who: Montreal Canadiens (20-21-7, 47 points, 6th place Atlantic Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (21-17-7, 49 points, 7th place Metropolitan Division)

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Sportsnet Pittsburgh, CBC, TVAS, CITY, streaming on ESPN+

Pens’ Path Ahead: This is the Penguins’ last game before the All-Star break. The team has almost a week off before returning for a home game on Tuesday, Feb. 6 against the Winnipeg Jets. After that things pick up quickly with two back-to-back sets, one against the Minnesota Wild and Jets, and another facing the Florida Panthers and Chicago Blackhawks.

Opponent Track: The Canadiens are a middling 4-4-2 in their last ten, but got back into the win column Thursday after three straight losses thanks to Sean Monahan’s clutch late goal against the New York Islanders.

Season Series: Jansen Harkins scored to cap off a 24-player shootout with a 4-3 win for the Penguins the last time these two teams met on Dec. 13. The Pens will see the Habs again in about a month to finish out the season series on Feb. 22.

Hidden Stat: The Penguins are a perfect 5-0 in the second half of back-to-backs so far this season.

Getting to know the Canadiens

Projected lines

FORWARDS

Cole Caufield - Nick Suzuki - Josh Anderson

Juraj Slafkovsky - Sean Monahan - Joel Armia

Tanner Pearson - Jake Evans - Rafael Harvey-Pinard

Michael Pezzetta - Lucas Condotta - ?

DEFENSEMEN

Mike Matheson - Kaiden Guhle

Jayden Struble - David Savard

Arber Xhekaj - Johnathan Kovacevic

Goalies: Jake Allen, Samuel Montembeault

Possible scratches: Jesse Ylönen, Cayden Primeau, Brendan Gallagher (suspended)

IR: Christian Dvorak, Alex Newhook, Kirby Dach, Chris Wideman, Carey Price

  • The Canadiens shuffled their lines this week after losing three straight games during which they were outscored 19-7. It seems likely they’ll stick with something close to the combination that led them to Thursday’s win over the Islanders, although it won’t be exactly the same, because...
  • Brendan Gallagher will be out of the lineup tonight. He was suspended following a phone hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety Friday regarding his hit Thursday on Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech. The Canadiens will likely either put winger Jesse Ylönen on the fourth line in his stead or slot in Jordan Harris and go with seven defensemen.
  • Former Penguin Mike Matheson is skating on the first pairing in Montreal, where he has established himself as a veteran presence on a young and rebuilding team. From 22-year-old Canadiens defenseman Arber Xhekaj on Thursday, per the Montreal Gazette’s Stu Cowan:

“He knows how to be a pro. On the ice, he’s got all the good habits. He brings it every practice. Off the ice, you can see he’s always looking at his nutrition, finding new ways to be more healthy. He takes care of his body in the gym and he just has that pro mindset every day. As soon as he gets on the ice, it’s go time. No messing around, whether it’s practice or a game. He’s a really good leader and role model for me.”

  • Jake Allen is slated to start in net tonight. He’s looking back to bounce back from his Tuesday start against the Ottawa Senators a 4-1 loss where he gave up three goals on 27 shots in a 4-1 Canadiens loss.

Player stats

(via hockeydb)

  • Cole Caufield is on a heater. He has points in eight straight games (6-5—11) and needs just five more to tie his single-season career high of 43 points.
  • Sean Monahan has been a regular on the scoresheet lately as well, with two goals and eight assists in six games.
  • This could be a match made in heaven: the Canadiens (73.2 percent) have one of the worst penalty kills in the league. Could there be hope yet for a historically bad Penguins power play?

And now for the Penguins

Projected lines

FORWARDS

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust

Drew O’Connor - Evgeni Malkin - Colin White

Rickard Rakell - Lars Eller - Valtteri Puustinen

Jansen Harkins - Noel Acciari - Jeff Carter

DEFENSEMEN

Marcus Pettersson / Kris Letang

Ryan Graves / Erik Karlsson

P.O. Joseph / Chad Ruhwedel

Goalies: Tristan Jarry, Alex Nedeljkovic

Potential Scratch: Ryan Shea, Reilly Smith (injured)

IR: Matt Nieto (out from knee surgery until March), John Ludvig (upper body injury)

  • Tonight will mark Lars Eller’s 1,000th career game.
  • John Ludvig is eligible to return from IR today, so keep an eye out for news there.
  • Tristan Jarry will get the start after Alex Nedeljkovic took on the Panthers last night.
  • The Penguins may have gotten a point out of last night’s loss, but Evgeni Malkin, still haunted by the own-goal empty-netter against the Coyotes, wasn’t anywhere near satisfied:
  • A series of disheartening stats from Bob Grove: