3 keys: Canadiens vs Penguins, Cup playoff Game 1

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The Penguins are looking to advance to the Stanley Cup playoffs for a shot at the Cup for the third time in five seasons after winning back-to-back championships in 2016 and 2017. They have beaten the Canadiens in two of three games. this season, including the two most recent (3-2 in overtime on January 4 and 4-1 on February 14).Montreal is looking to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2017. It last faced Pittsburgh in the playoffs in 2010, when it won 4-3 in a best-of-7 series in the conference semifinals. ‘Is.

There hasn’t been a best-of-5 series in the NHL since 1986. The League used them for the Stanley Cup playoff preliminaries from 1980 to 1986, and the team that won the first one. match won the series 87.5. percent of the time (49 out of 56).

Here are three keys to Game 1:

1. Crosby and Guentzel reunited

Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel will play together in a non-exhibition game for the first time since November 9, when Crosby was injured before undergoing central muscle surgery on November 14. He returned on Jan. 14, but Guentzel underwent shoulder surgery on Dec. 31, which caused him to miss the rest of the regular season.

The forwards will be back on the top line with Crosby in the center and Guentzel on the left wing, joined by Conor Sheary on the right wing. Crosby has 47 points (16 goals, 31 assists) in 41 games this season; Guentzel, who was named to the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game, has 43 points (20 goals, 23 assists) in 39 games.

“A lot of anticipation built up over those months not knowing what was going to happen,” said Crosby. ” We are here. We are excited. We worked to get there. So it’s fun and we’re excited to play meaningful hockey. “

2. Price vs. Murray

The Canadiens’ starting goalie was never in question. Prix ​​Carey, who was 27-25-6 with a 2.79 goals-against average and .909 save percentage in 58 starts this season, is Montreal’s undisputed number one goaltender.

But during training camp, Price said he couldn’t beat Pittsburgh on his own, i.e. forwards. Tomas Tatar, Phillip Danault, Brendan Gallagher, Nick Suzuki and others must produce the offense.

The decision was less straightforward for Pittsburgh. Matt Murray was named a starter on Saturday after competing with Tristan jarry for the role throughout training camp. The two-time Stanley Cup champion (2016, 2017) was 20-11-5 with a 2.87 GAA save percentage and NHL career low this season.

3. Power on

Neither team impressed the power play in their respective exhibition match on Tuesday.

Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 with the man advantage in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. Montreal was 0 for 6 and allowed two shorthanded goals in a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Penguins and Habs were also inconsistent on the power play during the regular season. Pittsburgh was 16th in the NHL (19.9 percent); Montreal was 22nd (17.7 percent).

A win on Saturday could come down to which team takes advantage of their power play opportunities.

Canadian lineup

Tomas Tatar – Phillip Danault – Brendan Gallagher

Jonathan drouin – Nick Suzuki – Joel armia

Paul ByronJesperi KotkaniemiArtturi Lehkonen

Dale wayMax DomiJordan Weal

Ben ChiarotShea Weber

Brett KulakJeff Petry

Xavier OuelletVictor Mete

Prix ​​Carey

Charlie Lindgren

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

Unfit to play: No

Projected penguin programming

Jake Guentzel – Sidney Crosby – Conor Sheary

Jason ZuckerEvgeni MalkinBryan Rust

Patrick MarleauJared McCannPatric Hornqvist

Zach Aston-ReeseTeddy BluegerBrandon Tanev

Brian DumoulinKris Letang

Marcus PetterssonJohn Marino

Jack JohnsonJustin Schultz

Matt Murray

Tristan jarry

Striped: 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: No



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