The Pittsburgh Penguins are trying to track down first-place Washington in the Metropolitan Division but the schedule has not exactly been favorable, with five matchups in the previous nine games against the three best teams in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins will continue a four-game homestand against the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night.
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Pittsburgh is coming off its second loss in six days to Tampa Bay, the league's hottest team, but has earned points in 10 of its last 13 games (9-3-1). "It's going to be tight hockey from here on in," captain Sidney Crosby said after Tuesday's 2-1 overtime loss to the Lightning. "Doesn't make it any better when you lose." The defeat dropped the Penguins to 12-2-2 in their last 16 at home, which included a 4-1 setback to Montreal on Dec. 10. The Canadiens had won three straight and nine of 12 before dropping back-to-back decisions to Arizona and Boston to fall eight points out of the second wild card entering play Thursday.
TIME: 7 p.m. ET. TV: AT&T Sportsnet-Pittsburgh, RDS, TSN2
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (27-25-7): Already facing an uphill climb to reach the postseason, Montreal learned that captain Shea Weber will be sidelined for four to six weeks due to a sprained left ankle. The Canadiens managed only three goals in their past two losses and have failed to score more than two regulation goals in four straight contests. "We haven't really generated all that much for whatever reason," forward Brendan Gallagher said after Wednesday's 4-1 loss at Boston. "It's disappointing in a sense. ... We need to find a way to collect points."
ABOUT THE PENGUINS (34-15-6): Forward Jason Zucker was not thrilled with his Pittsburgh debut -- "I pretty much mishandled every puck" -- on Tuesday night, which came one day after he was acquired from the Minnesota Wild. Zucker skated on Pittsburgh's No. 1 line in that game and remained there at Thursday's practice alongside Crosby and Dominik Simon. "It takes games and situations," Crosby said of Zucker's adjustment to a new system. "He's got a lot of speed and experience. That's going to help the transition go a little smoother."
1. Penguins C Evgeni Malkin has three goals and five assists during a five-game point streak and has 53 points in 42 games versus Montreal.
2. Canadiens G Carey Price has allowed four goals in splitting two decisions versus Pittsburgh this season.
3. Crosby has 19 goals and 49 points in 39 games versus the Canadiens.
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Key Players to Watch
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- Upper BodyQues Fri | questionable
McCann sat out the last game with an upper-body injury, and it is up in the air if he will play Friday against the Ducks.
- KneeQues Fri | questionable
Kahun was recently acquired via trade and is dealing with a left knee injury. It is unknown if he will make his team debut Friday versus the Golden Knights.
- FaceLate March | I-R
Marino has been added to the injured reserve list and is projected to miss three to six weeks after having surgery to repair facial bone fractures.
- AbdominalEarly March | I-R
Bjugstad has landed on injured reserve after having core muscle surgery, and he is expected to be out of the lineup until the beginning of March.
- AnkleEarly March | I-R
Dumoulin has been designated for the injured reserve list and is expected to be out of action until at least the early part of March after having surgery to repair lacerated tendons in his left ankle.
- Upper BodyEarly March | I-R
Gudbranson has been added to the injured reserve list with an upper-body injury, and is expected to remain on the shelf until at least the beginning of March.
- LegQues Wed | questionable
Kahun has sat out the previous two games due to a left leg injury, and it is unclear if he will be in Wednesday's lineup versus the Kings.
- Lower BodyOut indefinitely | out
Aston-Reese is out of action due to a lower-body injury, and it is undetermined when he will return to the lineup.
- Footout for season | I-R
Mete has been designated for the injured reserve list due to a fractured left foot. He is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
- ConcussionOut indefinitely | I-R
Ouellet is on the injured reserve list with a concussion, and it is unknown when he will return to the fold.
- AcquiredProb Wed | probable
Cousins was traded for, but it is projected that he will take part in Wednesday's battle with the Oilers.
- AcquiredProb Tues | probable
Thompson is projected to suit up for Tuesday's matchup against the Sharks despite recently being acquired by the team in a trade.
- AcquiredQues Mon | questionable
Peca was recently acquired via trade, and it is unknown if he will join the team in time to face the Blue Jackets on Monday.
- Lower BodyProb Thurs | probable
Gallagher sat out the previous game due to a lower-body injury, but it is likely that he will line up Thursday against the Capitals.
- AnkleProb Tues | probable
Weber has been activated from the injured reserve list after healing from a sprained ankle, and it is likely that he will return to action Tuesday against the Red Wings.
- IllnessProb Tues | probable
Thompson sat out the previous game due to illness, but he is likely to line up versus the Red Wings on Tuesday.
pittsburgh-penguins Stats 2019-2020
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montreal-canadiens Stats 2019-2020
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