Here’s what mat­ters when the Habs meet the Pen­guins on Satur­day at the Bell Cen­tre (7 p.m., CITY, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Ra­dio), writes Pat Hickey.

Montreal Gazette - - SPORTS - Ph­ickey@post­media.com twit­ter.com/zababes1


The re­match

These teams are meet­ing for the sec­ond time in a week. The Cana­di­ens’ ag­gres­sive forecheck­ing caught the Pen­guins off-guard last Satur­day in Pitts­burgh and Mon­treal skated to a 5-1 vic­tory. Pen­guins coach Mike Sullivan de­scribed the Cana­di­ens as hard to play against. The Cana­di­ens are com­ing off a 3-0 loss to Los An­ge­les in their home opener on Thurs­day.


Shuf­fling the deck

Claude Julien made his first lineup changes of the sea­son, in­sert­ing vet­eran To­mas Plekanec on the fourth line in place of Matthew Peca. Paul Byron re­places the strug­gling Jonathan Drouin on the de facto No. 2 line with rookie Jes­peri Kotkaniemi and Joel Ar­mia. Drouin, who is look­ing for his first point, skates with Max Domi and Art­turi Lehko­nen.


Of­fen­sive woes

The loss to the Kings un­der­lined the Cana­di­ens’ in­abil­ity to score. Mon­treal fired 40 shots at Kings goal­tender Jack Camp­bell, but aside from one that hit the cross­bar and a dis­al­lowed goal, there were too many harm­less shots from the out­side.


Some ran­dom stats Mon­treal has al­lowed only one power play goal and ranks eighth in penalty killing af­ter post­ing the sec­ond-worst record in the NHL last sea­son. Other stats aren’t as en­cour­ag­ing. The Cana­di­ens have scored only one power play goal while face­offs con­tinue to be a prob­lem.


Pen­guins power

Sullivan hasn’t been happy with his team de­fence, but there’s no doubt this is an ex­plo­sive team. Sid­ney Crosby and Ev­geni Malkin have each won two league scor­ing ti­tles and Jake Guentzel is one of the best third-line cen­tres in the league. Phil Kes­sel pro­vides scor­ing on the wing. Kris Le­tang is healthy and pro­vides of­fence from the back end.

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