The NHL is set up with a lot of action on Monday as six games will be up on the board. One of these matchups on August 3 will be between the Montreal Canadiens and the Pittsburgh Penguins. These two teams will meet in Game 2 of their best of five series. This game will drop the puck at around 8:00 PM Eastern time on Monday night.
The Canadiens finished out the regular season with a record of 31-31-9, which was good enough to earn them the twelfth seed in the Eastern Conference. This was enough to help them sneak into the NHL playoffs. Montreal was able to steal Game 1 right under Pittsburgh, which will likely give them some confidence coming into this one.
Pittsburgh earned a record of 40-23-6 through the regular season, which helped them secure the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins had lost eight of their last eleven before the season came to a halt. Now Pittsburgh finds themselves in a shocking 1-0 deficit in the series and will look to bounce back on Monday night. Expect the Penguins to come out with some fire in Game 2.
These two teams are widely apart in the regular season standings, but with the new playoff format season, they are back on even playing fields. These teams will battle it out in this best of five series to try and earn a spot in the round of sixteen. The Penguins lost a pivotal Game 1, but will look to bounce back with a huge win on Monday night.
These two teams met up three times in the regular season with the first meeting being on December 10. Jake Guentzel opened up the scoring, but it would not be enough for the Penguins. Joel Armia, Brenden Gallagher, Tomas Tatar and Shea Weber all earned a goal and an assist to help propel the Canadiens to a win. Carey Price stopped 33 of the 34 shots against him in a 4-1 win.
The second meeting of the season shifted to Montreal on January 4. Artturi Lehkonen scored twice for Montreal to help force overtime. Teddy Blueger added two assists for the Penguins, while Brandon Tanev scored in overtime to give Pittsburgh the win. Matt Murray had 26 saves on 28 shots to help propel the Penguins to the 3-2 win.
The third game of the season series was in Pittsburgh on February 14. Tomas Tatar scored the lone goal for Montreal, which was not enough for them to win. Sidney Crosby tallied up three assists for the Penguins, while Jason Zucker scored two times for Pittsburgh. Tristan Jarry had 34 saves on 35 shots to give the Penguins a 4-1 win.
The first game of this series was on August 1. Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki opened up the scoring for the Canadiens to give Montreal a 2-0 lead. Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust both scored as well to tie it up in the second. Jeff Petry scored the winner in overtime to help give the Canadiens the upset. Carey Price turned away 39 of the 41 shots he faced in the winning effort.
Montreal’s special teams were not great this season. The Canadiens capitalized on 33 of their 186 power play chances, which is good for a 17.7 percent success rate. Montreal’s penalty kill was not any better either. The Canadiens allowed opposing teams to score 45 goals on 211 opportunities, which is a 78.7 percent penalty kill.
The Penguins power play was around the league average throughout this season. Pittsburgh tallied up 42 power play goals on 211 attempts, which is a 19.9 percent power play. The Penguins penalty kill was really solid this season as well. Pittsburgh held their opponents to 34 goals on 190 chances, which is an 82.1 percent kill rate.
In Game 1 of this series, Montreal went 0-2 on the power play, while the Penguins went 1-7. Neither teams power play looked great, but expect Pittsburgh to pick it up. The Canadiens special teams are a weaker part of their game and if they are going to take a lot of penalties, it could catch up to them. Pittsburgh has a lot of dangerous goal scorers on the power play and I expect them to make it count more going forward.
Carey Price will get the start in crease for Montreal on Monday night. Price earned a record of 27-25-6 throughout the regular season. He put up a save percentage of .909 with a 2.79 GAA. Price’s season was not great, but he had a phenomenal game to open up this series. He kept the Canadiens alive in a lot of moments, but if Montreal keeps leaving him out to dry, eventually Pittsburgh will break through.
Matt Murray earned the start in Game 1 and I believe he will be back in net for Game 1. Murray posted a record of 20-11-5 this season. He finished with a .899 save percentage and a GAA of 2.87 this season. Murray did not have a great regular season, but played well in Game 1. He stopped 32 of the 35 shots he faced for a save percentage of .914.
The Canadiens will continue to rely on the great play of Price if they want to win this series. Neither goalie had great regular season performances, but Price dominated in Game 1. Murray played well, but the Penguins will have to break through early if they want to give him some help. I expect Pittsburgh to come out shooting in this one to try and take control early.
While Montreal took a great Game 1 upset, I do not expect this to last. The Penguins outmatched them throughout most of the game. If Pittsburgh can score the first goal and make Montreal play from behind, I think it will lead to a dominant win for the Penguins. Pittsburgh is going to come out and prove themselves on Monday, which I think will help them earn the win.
There is not a lot of value on the Penguins in the money line as they are still favorited, but the puck line has a lot of value. Pittsburgh is listed as -1 ½ for +155 in this game, which I think has the most value. I believe that the Penguins will come out really strong and pour it onto the Canadiens. I do not think Price will be able to bail Montreal out as well in this one, leading to a strong win for Pittsburgh.