Montreal Canadiens (24-11-2) at Pittsburgh Penguins (23-9-5)
|Date & Time||Saturday January 3, 2015, 7:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Pittsburgh Penguins -146 / Montreal Canadiens +132 --- Over/Under: 5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+. Start your 7-day FREE trial today!|
On Friday afternoon the Pittsburgh Penguins went out and made a trade that they hope will give them the additional fire power they need to get through the Eastern Conference. General manager Jim Rutherford traded a first round draft pick and Rob Klinkhammer to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for David Perron. In Perron the Penguins acquired a feisty young player that they hope can continue to light the lamp alongside Sidney Crosby. Last season Perron put up 28 goals and 57 points for the Oilers and the Penguins are expecting those numbers and more with his new center. The Penguins seemed to be energized by the news because they came out on Friday night and played like a club that didn’t need any additions to their lineup. Hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning the Penguins came out of the box flying. Chris Kunitz scored a power play goal just 1:56 into the game and Penguins just kept on coming all night long. Andrew Ebbett scored his first goal of the season and Evgeni Malkin added his 17th as the Penguins took a 3-1 lead with them into the second period. The teams traded goals in the middle frame with Christian Ehrhoff scoring for the Penguins and in the third period they put the game away. Alex Killorn drew the Lightning within a goal but Steve Downie scored twice to give Pittsburgh the 6-3 victory. Adding Perron to this lineup is likely just the first step for a club that still sees itself as being right in their prime. With Crosby and Malkin healthy and playing at top level this club is going to continue to try and add pieces that can benefit them in the post season. Saturday night they’ll get a great test when they host the Montreal Candiens at the Consol Energy Center.
Montreal enters this must watch contest back atop the Atlantic Division standings after Friday night’s victory in New Jersey. The Canadiens have won five straight games and are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games. It wasn’t the greatest effort of the year against the Devils but good teams find ways to win hockey games, especially when they’re facing an inferior opponent. After a scoreless opening period Montreal got on the board on Michael Bournival’s first goal of the season. The lead stayed at one until the final minute of the frame when Max Pacioretty added his 15th goal of the season with the Canadiens on the power play. Early in the third it was Bournival striking again to increase the lead to 3-0 before the Devils started to rally. New Jersey would score twice but Carey Price would close the door from there are the Canadiens went on to the 4-2 win. Tomas Plekanec added his 11th of the year into the empty net. Now the Canadiens will have to step up their game a bit against a Penguins team that will have an upgrade in their lineup and is coming off a very strong game on Friday night. Nobody at this point doubts how good of a team Montreal can be during the regular season but whether or not they’re able to make the type of run to the Eastern Conference Finals that they made last season still leaves a lot of people wondering. Still, they are a club that is built for the new age NHL with shifty players who are loaded with speed and talent throughout the lineup. How they perform in these types of games will be important for them confidence wise because they’re going to have to go through a team like Pittsburgh at some point if they want to make another run at the Stanley Cup.
This is going to be a fun one on Saturday and it’s going to be interesting to see how Perron fits into the Penguins lineup. Pittsburgh should have an edge here on home ice but Montreal has been playing some great hockey of late.