3 Keys: Penguins vs. Canadiens, Game 4 of Cup Qualifiers


No. 5 Penguins vs. No. 12 Canadiens 


Montreal leads best-of-5 series, 2-1

The Montreal Canadiens can advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Friday. 

Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry has scored the game-winning goal in each of their wins, a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 1 and a 4-3 win in Game 3. Montreal hasn’t won a postseason series since 2015, when it defeated the Ottawa Senators in six games in the Eastern Confernce First Round.

Teams that win Game 3 after a series is tied 1-1 are 22-7 (75.9 percent) winning a best-of-5 NHL series (14-2 when last used from 1980-86). 

Goalie Tristan Jarry will start for the Penguins. Matt Murray started the first three games in the series and allowed eight goals on 93 shots (2.50 goals-against average and .914 save percentage).

Pittsburgh has lost eight of its past nine postseason games since defeating the Washington Capitals 3-1 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Second Round on May 3, 2018. The Penguins defeated the Canadiens 3-1 in Game 2 in Toronto, the Eastern Conference hub city, on Monday. 

If the Penguins lose, they will have a 12.5 percent chance at the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery, to be held Aug. 10. 

Here are 3 keys to Game 4: 


1. Malkin must do more

Evgeni Malkin hasn’t played poorly through the first three games, but the Penguins center hasn’t scored despite 17 shots on goal. 

He did get his first point in the series in Game 3, setting up a power-play goal by Patric Hornqvist with a cross-slot pass in the first period. But after an impressive training camp, Pittsburgh will need more from Malkin if it wants to reach Game 5. 

“These guys are human beings. They have emotions as well,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “When something positive happens for them, it usually has an influence or impact on them. We’re talking to [Malkin] about just staying with it and making sure he’s trying to play the game the right way.” 

Malkin said he’s not ready for Pittsburgh’s season to end. 

“I’m not happy with my game,” he said. “[Friday] could be the last game for us. We don’t want that.” 


2. Playing a full 60 minutes 

Through the first two games, the Canadiens were outshot 32-13 in the first period. Although Montreal managed to find a way to win Game 1, it didn’t survive another slow start in Game 2. 

In Game 3, Pittsburgh scored three straight goals to take a 3-1 lead at 5:34 of the second period before Montreal rallied with three straight to win 4-3.

Maintaining a consistent approach might determine who wins Game 4. 

“The job isn’t done,” Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot said. “You have to win three games. … We’re feeling good and positive. We’ve built some belief in our team, but you try to keep that even-keel.” 


3. Montreal capitalizing on the power play 

The Canadiens have been able to generate enough offense despite failing to score on each of their 10 power plays. One reason for that has been their penalty kill, which was 11-for-12 through the first two games.

Pittsburgh was able to score two goals on three chances with the man-advantage in Game 3, so Montreal needs to capitalize on the power play if it wants to close out the series. 


Penguins projected lineup 

Jake GuentzelSidney CrosbyConor Sheary

Jason Zucker — Evgeni Malkin — Bryan Rust

Patrick MarleauSam Lafferty — Patric Hornqvist

Zach Aston-ReeseTeddy BluegerBrandon Tanev

Brian DumoulinKris Letang

Marcus PetterssonJohn Marino

Jack JohnsonJustin Schultz

Tristan Jarry

Matt Murray

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

Unfit to play: None 


Canadiens projected lineup 

Tomas TatarPhillip DanaultBrendan Gallagher   

Jonathan DrouinNick SuzukiJoel Armia

Paul ByronJesperi KotkaniemiArtturi Lehkonen  

Dale WeiseMax DomiAlex Belzile

Ben Chiarot — Shea Weber

Brett Kulak — Jeff Petry

Xavier OuelletVictor Mete

Carey Price

Charlie Lindgren

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

Unfit to play: Jake Evans


Status report 

Canadiens coach Claude Julien said Evans is doubtful after leaving Game 3, his NHL postseason debut, with 7:18 remaining in the second period after Tanev hit him into the boards. … Sullivan declined to say if changes will be made to Pittsburgh’s lineup. 

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