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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- Lower BodyQues Tues | questionable
Aston-Reese has a lower-body injury, and it is undetermined if he will play Tuesday against the Maple Leafs.
- FaceLate March | out
Marino is projected to miss three to six weeks after having surgery to repair facial bone fractures.
- AbdominalLate Feb | 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 end of February.
- AnkleLate Feb | I-R
Dumoulin has been designated for the injured reserve list and is expected to be out of action until at least the latter part of February after having surgery to repair lacerated tendons in his left ankle.
- ConcussionOut indefinitely | out
Kahun sustained a concussion, and it is unknown how long it will take him to pass protocol.
- Upper BodyOut indefinitely | I-R
Gudbranson has been added to the injured reserve list with an upper-body injury, and there is no timetable for recovery.
- AnkleQues Tues | I-R
Weber has landed on the injured reserve list due to a sprained ankle, and it is uncertain if he will activated in time for Tuesday's contest against the Red Wings.
- IllnessQues Tues | questionable
Thompson sat out the previous game due to illness, and it is unclear if he will line up versus the Red Wings on Tuesday.
- Lower BodyDoub Tues | doubtful
Gallagher is battling a lower-body injury, and it is unlikely that he will be available for Tuesday's contest against the Red Wings.
- AnkleProb Tues | probable
Drouin missed the last game with an ankle injury, but it is likely he will face the Red Wings on Tuesday.
- KneeQues Tues | I-R
Byron is on the injured reserve list after having knee surgery. He has progressed in his recovery, but it is uncertain if he will be activated in time for Tuesday's game versus the Red Wings.
- FluOut indefinitely | out
Weal has been sidelined due to flu-like symptoms, and a timetable for return has yet to be established.
- HandProb Fri | probable
Tatar is expected to face the Penguins on Friday despite a hand injury.
- IllnessProb Fri | probable
Thompson is battling an illness, but it is likely he will be available for Friday's contest against the Penguins.
pittsburgh-penguins Stats 2019-2020
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montreal-canadiens Stats 2019-2020
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