Penguins, Habs square off in Montreal

( – Two of the NHL’s hottest teams will face off Tuesday, as
the Montreal Canadiens host the Pittsburgh Penguins in an Eastern Conference
showdown at the Bell Centre.

The Canadiens boast the league’s longest current winning streak, posting their
sixth consecutive victory in Sunday’s road decision over Detroit. The Habs
downed the Red Wings 4-1 and have outscored opponents during the streak by a
combined margin of 24-7.

Montreal leads the NHL with 29 points and is one ahead of Tampa Bay for first
place in the Atlantic Division.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has won nine of its last 10 tilts, with the lone blip
of that stretch coming in last Tuesday’s 5-0 loss to the New York Rangers. The
Penguins were able to avenge that road setback on Saturday, albeit in odd

New York thought it had its second straight win over the Penguins in
Saturday’s meeting in the Steel City, but a video review in the shootout
eventually gave Pittsburgh another chance to win the game, which it did when
Brandon Sutter scored in the fourth round.

After playing to a 2-2 tie through 65 minutes, the Rangers and Pens were
knotted at 1-1 in the shootout when it appeared New York’s Dan Boyle won the
game in the third round.

The Rangers celebrated what it thought to be a win after Boyle slid a shot
past Marc-Andre Fleury, but replays showed his attempt hit the post before
striking his stick for a double-hit. Both teams had already gone to their
respective locker rooms before being summoned back to continue the shootout.

Sutter then put Pittsburgh ahead by beating Henrik Lundqvist between the pads
and Fleury stopped Rick Nash with his left arm to give the Penguins the extra

“It’s important when you have a tough night that you can rebound,” Penguins
head coach Mike Johnston said of avenging the loss against the Rangers. “We
knew we had them again this week.”

After tonight’s encounter with the East’s top team, the Pens will begin a
home-and-home against the New York Islanders on Friday. With 25 points,
Pittsburgh is three points ahead of the second-place Islanders in the
Metropolitan Division.

Montreal completed a perfect four-game homestand with Saturday’s 6-3 victory
over Philadelphia and posted another three-goal win the following night in

P.K. Subban and Brendan Gallagher each registered a goal and an assist to
power the Canadiens, who are on their first six-game winning streak since
March 6-16, 2010. Montreal last won seven straight during an eight-game tear
from March 23-April 6, 2006.

Brandon Prust and Tomas Plekanec also scored for the Canadiens and backup
Dustin Tokarski turned aside 28 shots in the win.

“We were playing our fourth game in six nights, back-to-back and against a
good Red Wings team, but the guys didn’t make any excuses,” Montreal coach
Michel Therrien said.

Carey Price, who is 9-9-2 with a 3.03 goals against average in his career
against Pittsburgh, is expected to start in net tonight for the Habs. Fleury
is 16-9-3 with a lifetime 3.16 GAA versus Montreal.

Tuesday’s battle marks the first of three regular-season meetings between the
Canadiens and Pens in 2014-15. Montreal has claimed two of the past three
encounters, but Pittsburgh has won seven out of 10 against the Habs.

Montreal boasts an 8-2-0 record at home this season and has won two of the
last three meetings against the Pens at the Bell Centre. Pittsburgh is 6-1-1
on the road.