The Pittsburgh Penguins will look to make it three straight wins to start the season when they visit the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.
Pittsburgh has won each of its first two games of the season against the Arizona Coyotes and Tampa Bay Lightning, each by 6-2 scores.
“They’re a proud group,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “They have an appetite to win. To a man, the core group of players that have been here, they’re hungry to win.
“We talk about it with our players all the time: It’s a daily endeavor. It doesn’t happen by accident. You’ve got to go out and earn it in this league every day. Nothing’s inevitable. We have good players, but a lot of teams have good players. It takes more than good players to win. You need a certain level of commitment, and I think our guys display that.”
Monday’s game will mark the return of Jeff Petry to his former home. The Canadiens traded the veteran defenseman, along with forward Ryan Poehling, to Pittsburgh after seven seasons and change in Montreal.
“He’s a real good player on both sides of the puck,” Sullivan said. “He’s a great athlete. He has size and strength in the net front and the battle areas, and he’s real competitive; he’s got an edge to his game that helps us in those areas. He makes us harder to play against. But he brings all those other aspects that complement and define Penguins hockey.”
Goaltender Tristan Jarry didn’t participate in the team’s optional practice Sunday but is OK, per Sullivan. He was rattled Saturday when Petry pushed Lightning forward Alex Killorn and Killorn crashed into Jarry.
After opening the season with a win against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Canadiens have dropped each of their past two contests, getting outscored 6-1 in losses to the Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals on consecutive nights.
“We’ve been competitive in every game this year,” forward Brendan Gallagher said. “But you want to be on the right side of it. There’s little critical moments throughout the game which are the reasons why we lost the last two and why we won the first game and we’re still learning all that.”
It’s been a tough start for Juraj Slafkovsky, the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, as he adjusts to the league and North American hockey. The 18-year-old has just one shot on goal through three games and on Saturday recorded his highest ice time of the young season, playing 12:41 against Washington.
“I felt he got more puck touches, which is always a good sign,” Montreal coach Martin St. Louis said after the game. “He’ll learn to use his body more to his advantage, not just his skills, especially at his size. The way goals are scored in this league, you have to go to the net and get pucks in the corner.
“Juraj is 18 years old. He’s used to having the puck more than he does now. There’s going to be an adaptation period. He’s going through that now.”
–Field Level Media