The Pittsburgh Penguins scored their second win of the season with a 4-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night. It was only their second game in five days after taking a 5-1 loss against the Canadiens in Pittsburgh. The effort for the Pens in that one was pretty pathetic, as they failed miserably on both ends of the ice.
Matt Murray was unable to go for the Pens in their last game and that may have been for the better. Murray has struggled mightily to open the year, but was backed up nicely by Casey DeSmith against Vegas. DeSmith doesn’t get many opportunities and he was able to make the most of it against the Golden Knights. He turned back 35 stops, making timely save on a regular basis for the Pens.
Murray is close to making a return from a concussion. After DeSmith just played like that in the crease, the Penguins may be reluctant to go back to Murray so quickly. Perhaps they allow DeSmith to get some more starts to see if he can keep the hot hand. Murray hasn’t been at his best to start the season.
He owns a 5.45 GAA and 0.831 save percentage in his first two outings. Those numbers will improve, but there shouldn’t be a reason to rush him back if DeSmith continues to hold the fort down in the immediate future. Sidney Crosby hasn’t found the back of the net for the Penguins yet this season, but he has 3 helpers. There will be a time when he catches fire and gets it going so I wouldn’t worry about him. Phil Kessel notched a hat trick against the Knights to power the Pens offence on Thursday. Get our free Penguins vs. Canadiens pick below.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Montreal Canadiens Pick
The Penguins recorded just 22 shots on Carey Price in their first meeting this season. That’s just a lack of effort and taking the opponent lightly. The Penguins have generally made it look easy against the Canadiens. They were riding a five-game winning streak and won seven of eight against the Habs prior to that loss. So, I think the Penguins went into their last game a little too comfortable without taking the Canadiens too seriously.
The Canadiens were blanked by the Kings in their previous game, as they took a 3-0 loss at home Thursday night. That’s probably the team most people expected to see this year. Price also hasn’t been flawless against the Pens in his career. He was solid in the last outing, but overall, he’s been hit with a 2.98 GAA and 0.907 save percentage in 29 appearances. Not horrible, though for a goaltender like Price it isn’t ideal.
Montreal has been consistent with 2.33 goals per game and 2.33 goals against per game thus far in the 2018-19 season. While they did bury 5 goals against the Pens, goals are going to be difficult to find for the Canadiens over the course of this year. They’ve scored just 2 goals combined in their other two games, which came against the Leafs and Kings. A Leafs team that has had major trouble on defence this season. Before the Habs blew them away last week, the Pens had beaten the Canadiens by an average of 2 goals in their previous four meetings. I don’t expect to see the Penguins come out sloppy like they did then. They’re awake now and should be able to take care of business in Montreal on Saturday.