Spoiler alert: Pens hope to end skid, Canadiens' point streak
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said that his team needs to focus on its work ethic following back-to-back road losses.
The Atlantic Division leaders need to look no further than the Montreal Canadiens for examples.
Sitting atop the Eastern Conference, the Habs aim to push their point streak to 10 straight games in Saturday evening's meeting with the Penguins.
Montreal has gone 7-0-2 since an embarrassing 6-0 home loss to the rival Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 9. The Canadiens finally avenged that defeat on Wednesday, picking up a 5-2 victory in Toronto thanks to a three-goal third period.
Brendan Gallagher had the go-ahead goal midway through the frame and Max Pacioretty picked up his second tally of the game in the third. Brian Gionta added an empty-net goal and Alexei Emelin also scored in the contest.
Montreal managed to take a 2-2 tie into the final 20 minutes despite being outshot 28-12 through the first two periods. Carey Price stood tall with 21 saves in the win.
"When you get embarrassed at home, the next time you play them you put a lot of emphasis on the game," Gallagher remarked. "They played well but I thought we played a solid road game. We were able to play a disciplined style of hockey and I think it frustrated them a little bit."
The Habs' 29 points are one up on the Boston Bruins for first place in the Northeast Division and three ahead of the Penguins for the top spot in the East. The Canadiens return home for this game before playing five straight on the road, beginning Sunday in Boston.
First, the they'll try to hand the Penguins a season-high third straight loss in the finale of Pittsburgh's three-game swing. The Pens had won five of six prior to a 6-4 loss to the Florida Panthers and were then dealt a 4-1 defeat by the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday.
Chris Kunitz scored Pittsburgh's lone goal off a feed from Crosby, while Marc- Andre Fleury yielded four goals on 29 shots. The Pens also went 0-for-5 on the power play after notching a goal on the man advantage in each of their previous 12 games.
The Penguins came into this road trip 8-2-0 on the road, but have struggled without Evgeni Malkin, who has missed the past three games due to a concussion.
"The last couple of games, I don't think it's been too good," said Crosby. "For whatever reason, we've been pretty loose with our coverage and made it pretty easy on the two teams we've played the last couple of games. I think that the focus has to be on our work ethic and making sure it's there every night.
"We have to realize we can't show up and win. We're a good team when we work hard as a group. We can't expect to show up in team's buildings on the road, just put our gear on and expect to win. We're a good team, but we're better than the last couple of games."
Crosby has certainly had the work ethic this season as he is tops in the NHL with 22 assists and is tied for the league lead with 31 points. He has posted 14 points over his last eight games.
The Pens had won three straight over the Habs before a 3-2 shootout loss in Montreal on Feb. 7 of last year. They have still won six of their last 10 on the road in this series.