Something has to give when struggling Penguins, Canadiens meet

NHL Hockey

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens find themselves telling similar stories ahead of their clash Thursday night in Montreal.

After all, both struggling teams have lost three in a row and eight of their past 10 games (2-6-2).

They also are coming off one-goal setbacks on Tuesday. The Penguins dropped a 2-1 decision to the Buffalo Sabres, while the Canadiens sustained a 3-2 defeat to the New York Rangers.

“It’s still the same end result,” Montreal forward Jake Evans said. “I do think for the most part we’re playing pretty good hockey, and there’s just some mental lapses that cost us against a lot of these teams that have high-end skill and can make tougher plays that you don’t think are there.

“That’s what’s just been happening lately. Not a lot of mental lapses, but they happen, and I feel they’re scoring on them.”

Josh Anderson scored on Tuesday to pull even with Nick Suzuki and Mike Hoffman for the Canadiens’ lead in goals (four).

Cayden Primeau made 31 saves in his first start of the season. The 22-year-old was called up from Laval of the American Hockey League on Saturday after fellow goaltender Jake Allen was injured in Montreal’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

“He was confident,” Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said of Primeau, who was making just his seventh NHL start. “He made some big saves. He looked solid. It’s good to see the young guy coming in like that. He’s got a little bit of experience the last couple of years. He knew what to expect, and he was ready for it.”

While Montreal sports a 1-7-1 record on the road after Tuesday’s loss, Pittsburgh enters Thursday’s tilt with just one win away from home as well. The Penguins skated to a 6-2 victory at Tampa Bay in the season opener on Oct. 12.

“We just have to stick with it. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves,” Penguins veteran forward Jeff Carter said. “We could use excuses, but it’s going to get you nowhere. You got to just take a look in the mirror here and get back to work. It’s a big road trip for us.”

Penguins superstar captain Sidney Crosby notched an assist on Jake Guentzel’s power-play goal Tuesday for his first point of the season.

“I have complete faith that he’s going to capture his very best game sooner than later,” coach Mike Sullivan said of Crosby. “He’s just too good of a player, and he cares too much, and his work ethic is second to none.”

Guentzel boosted his point total to seven (four goals, three assists) in his last seven games after scoring his team’s lone goal in each of the last two contests.

Tristan Jarry responded after yielding each goal in a 6-1 setback to the Washington Capitals on Sunday by turning aside 17 of 19 shots two nights later. He owns a 2-1 record with a 2.34 goals-against average and .913 save percentage in three career starts vs. Montreal.

–Field Level Media

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