Canadiens-Penguins Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 20, 2012
Carey Price quipped that he's scared of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Their recent play behind Evgeni Malkin is giving the Montreal Canadiens' goaltender good reason to be. The Penguins will try to beat the Canadiens for a third time in a row and match their longest winning streak of the season Friday night at Consol Energy Center. Pittsburgh (25-17-4) has won four consecutive games after dropping six in a row. They've outscored opponents 16-6 during the current streak, which is one shy of their season-long five-game run Oct. 18-27. The Penguins' latest win was their most impressive, as they defeated the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers 4-1 on the road Thursday. Price and the Canadiens (17-21-8) are well aware of what Pittsburgh is capable of since the Penguins have won both meetings this season, including a 3-1 home victory Oct. 20. Price, who figures to be in net, stopped 67 of 74 shots in those two matchups, and feels facing the Penguins can bring out the best in him. "Probably because they scare the daylights out of me," Price told the team's official website. "They've got a lot of high-level talent and they always have, so whenever you roll into Pittsburgh you're aware that you're probably going to face over 30 shots and a few quality chances, so you know you have to be ready." Malkin is likely to keep Price busy again since he has 10 goals and 15 assists in 20 career regular-season meetings with Montreal. The All-Star center leads the league with 54 points, and he's found the net seven times with two assists over the last four games after scoring twice Thursday. Malkin's success is particularly critical with captain Sidney Crosby still out with post-concussion symptoms. Center Jordan Staal is also sidelined with a knee injury, while defenseman Kris Letang returned from a concussion that cost him nearly two months to set up one of Malkin's goals Thursday. Letang scored midway into overtime to give Pittsburgh a 4-3 win at Montreal on Nov. 26. "Everyone plays harder when Sid is out, but we don't think about injuries," Malkin said. "We play our system, we know how to play. We just maybe try to play better defensively." Marc-Andre Fleury has started 12 of the Penguins' past 13 games - posting a 2.10 goals-against average - but coach Dan Bylsma could give Brent Johnson a start Friday with the back-to-back situation and a game Sunday afternoon in Washington. The Canadiens, meanwhile, are mired in a 4-10-1 stretch that includes six losses in seven road games. They seemed to have some momentum following Sunday's 4-1 win over the Rangers, but followed it with a 3-0 loss at home to Washington on Wednesday. Montreal's power play is 0 for 13 over the last three games after an 0-for-7 effort against the Capitals caused coach Randy Cunneyworth to call a meeting. "We have to be able to get more pucks to the net. We have to be able to outnumber them temporarily and grab rebounds to get those second and third chances," Cunneyworth said. "We had a long meeting (Wednesday) morning and I talked with everyone on our power-play units. We have two units and if they're not performing, we'll move around a few of the guys." Erik Cole leads the Canadiens with 17 goals and 33 points, 10 of which have come on the power play. He hasn't found the net in five games, however. Cole had a goal and an assist against the Penguins in November.
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