3 Keys: Canadiens vs. Penguins, Game 2 of Cup Qualifiers

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No. 12 Canadiens vs. No. 5 Penguins 

8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS, ATTSN-PT 

Montreal leads best-of-5 series, 1-0

 

The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to avoid an eighth straight postseason loss when they play the Montreal Canadiens in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the Eastern Conference hub city, on Monday. 

Pittsburgh has lost its past seven postseason games since winning 3-1 against the Washington Capitals in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Second Round on May 3, 2018. 

After defeating the Penguins 3-2 in overtime in Game 1 on Saturday, the Canadiens are two wins from returning to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2017. 

There hasn’t been a best-of-5 series in the NHL since 1986. The League used them for the preliminary round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs from 1980-86, and the team that won Game 1 went on to win the series 87.5 percent of the time (49 of 56). 

Here are three keys to Game 2:

 

1. Solving Price

Canadiens goalie Carey Price was praised by the Penguins throughout the lead-up to this series. He was again after making 39 saves Saturday before Montreal defenseman Jeff Petry scored with 6:03 remaining in overtime. 

Since then, Pittsburgh has preached making the 32-year-old’s job more difficult. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said that starts with creating more traffic in front. 

“I think everybody can go to the net,” Sullivan said. “That’s being a hockey player, in my mind.”

 

2. A better start for Montreal

Despite having a 1-0 lead after the first period, the Canadiens were mostly outplayed early Saturday. They were outshot 18-6 in the first before outshooting the Penguins 29-23 the rest of the game. 

Montreal did take a 2-0 lead but allowed Pittsburgh to tie it with two straight goals in the second period. It might not be able to get out in front again if Game 2 starts in similar fashion. 

“We need to recognize that we’re playing against a very experienced team,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said Sunday. “This is a team that will really want to bounce back. So, it’s important for us to not dwell on the win, but rather to put it behind us and realize they’re going to come out even better.”

 

3. Penguins power play vs. Canadiens penalty kill

Pittsburgh forward Bryan Rust did score a power-play goal at 12:34 of the second period Saturday, and Montreal was 0-for-2 on the power play, but the Canadiens won the special teams battle. 

The Penguins finished 1-for-7 with the man advantage. The most noteworthy missed opportunity came when they failed to score on a 5-on-3 that lasted 1:32 after defenseman Ben Chiarot was called for high-sticking Sidney Crosby 58 seconds into the third period. 

Sullivan said he was encouraged after much of practice Sunday was spent working on special teams. 

“Whether our power play, for example, has success or it doesn’t … we just have to continue to try to play the game that we think brings us success,” Sullivan said.

 

Canadiens projected lineup 

Tomas TatarPhillip DanaultBrendan Gallagher   

Jonathan DrouinNick SuzukiJoel Armia

Paul ByronJesperi KotkaniemiArtturi Lehkonen  

Dale WeiseMax DomiJordan Weal

Ben Chiarot — Shea Weber

Brett Kulak — Jeff Petry 

Xavier OuelletVictor Mete

Carey Price 

Charlie Lindgren

Scratched: Charles Hudon, Jake Evans, Ryan Poehling, Cale Fleury, Noah Juulsen, Gustav Olofsson, Christian Folin, Cayden Primeau, Michael McNiven

Unfit to play: None

 

Penguins projected lineup

Jake Guentzel — Sidney Crosby — Conor Sheary

Jason ZuckerEvgeni Malkin — Bryan Rust 

Patrick MarleauJared McCannPatric Hornqvist

Zach Aston-ReeseTeddy BluegerBrandon Tanev

Brian DumoulinKris Letang

Marcus PetterssonJohn Marino

Jack JohnsonJustin Schultz

Matt Murray

Tristan Jarry

Scratched: Chad Ruhwedel, Kevin Czuczman, Evan Rodrigues, Sam Lafferty, Phil Varone, Adam Johnson, Juuso Riikola, Anthony Angello, Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Casey DeSmith, Emil Larmi

Unfit to play: None

 

Status report

Sullivan did not say if there could be any changes made to the Penguins lineup. He did confirm Murray would start for Pittsburgh. … Julien said that the Canadiens would go with the same lineup as Game 1.

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