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Pens try to bounce back in home test vs. Habs

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to bounce back from their first home loss in over two months when they host the Montreal Canadiens in Wednesday's clash at CONSOL Energy Center.

The Penguins had won a club-record 13 straight games on home ice before getting dealt a surprising 5-1 loss by the visiting Florida Panthers on Monday. It was Pittsburgh's first loss at home since falling to Philadelphia on Nov. 13 and it marked Florida's first triumph in the Steel City since a 6-1 result on Jan. 3, 2009 at the now-demolished Mellon Arena.

Florida led 2-0 at the end of 40 minutes after scoring a goal in each of the first two periods. The Panthers then skated away with the easy victory by scoring three of the game's four third-period goals.

Matt Niskanen registered the lone goal in the loss and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 23 shots for the Penguins.

"I don't think this was our best team game and I wish I could have done more to prevent the goals and keep it a closer game. Tough loss," Fleury said.

The loss came despite the fact that the Penguins welcomed injured players James Neal, Paul Martin, Chuck Kobasew and Jayson Megna back to the lineup.

Pittsburgh still boasts a superb 20-4-0 record on home ice this season and is completing a three-game stay in the Steel City in tonight's game versus the Canadiens. The Pens also boast a big lead atop the Metropolitan Division, as they currently hold a 13-point lead over the second-place New York Rangers.

Montreal has lost two of three games heading into tonight's clash at CONSOL Energy Center and the Habs are just 4-4-2 over their last 10 games. The Canadiens ended a three-game losing streak in this series with a 3-2 home win over Pittsburgh on Nov. 23, but the Pens have still won six of the past eight meetings in this matchup.

Pittsburgh also has won four straight and seven of the past nine meetings in the Steel City.

The Canadiens have been off since dropping a 5-3 decision Saturday in Toronto. James van Riemsdyk scored the winning goal in the third period to lift the Maple Leafs to victory in the Original Six/Atlantic Division rivalry.

Brendan Gallagher, Brian Gionta and David Desharnais all lit the lamp for the Canadiens. Carey Price allowed four goals on 29 shots in the loss.

Montreal had tied the game at 9:06 of the third period as a left circle faceoff win saw P.K. Subban's shot from the left point tipped in by Desharnais in front.

Toronto, though, took a 4-3 lead with 5:33 to play as Tyler Bozak caught up to the puck at the right circle and fed it to the front where van Riemsdyk tapped it in for his 19th of the year. Joffrey Lupul then sealed the win for the Leafs with an empty-net goal in the final seconds.

Montreal is 1-1-0 so far on a four-game road trip that is set to end Friday in Detroit. The Habs are 13-9-2 as the visiting team this season.

Price expects to get the start for Montreal tonight and he is 9-8-2 with a 2.86 goals against average in 20 career games against the Pens. Fleury, a Quebec native, is 15-9-2 with a 3.19 GAA over his career against the Habs.