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PENGUINS (2-1-0) at CANADIENS (1-1-1)



The Game

Antti Niemi will make his first start of the season for the Montreal Canadiens against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Bell Centre on Saturday.

Niemi replaces Carey Price, who has the flu. 

Canadiens forward Tomas Plekanec will play in his 999th NHL game, his first since returning to Montreal as a free agent on July 1; he spent parts of 14 seasons with the Canadiens before he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 25.

Casey DeSmith will make his second straight start for the Penguins. Matt Murray will back up DeSmith after he was unable to play on Thursday against the Vegas Golden Knights because of a concussion.


Players to watch

Penguins forward Phil Kessel had a hat trick Thursday. He has five points (three goals, two assists) in three games.

Canadiens forward Max Domi has three assists in three games.


They said it

“It was a good test for us and a good eye-opener, and I think we’ll be a little bit more ready for them.” — Penguins forward Riley Sheahan on a 5-1 loss to Montreal last Saturday

“Obviously it’s a big loss, you know, just to have Carey around brings in good energy. But [Niemi] is just fine. He looked really sharp in all the practices.” — Canadiens forward Tomas Tatar on goalie Carey Price being out with the flu


Penguins projected lineup

Jake GuentzelSidney CrosbyBryan Rust

Carl HagelinEvgeni Malkin — Phil Kessel

Dominik SimonDerick BrassardPatric Hornqvist

Matt Cullen — Riley Sheahan — Daniel Sprong

Brian DumoulinKris Letang

Jack JohnsonJustin Schultz

Olli Maatta — Juuoso Riikola

Casey DeSmith

Matt Murray

Scratched: Jamie Oleksiak, Chad Ruhwedel, Tristan Jarry

Injured: None

Canadiens projected lineup

Tomas TatarPhillip DanaultBrendan Gallagher

Jonathan Drouin — Max Domi — Artturi Lehkonen

Paul ByronJesperi KotkaniemiJoel Armia

Charles Hudon — Tomas Plekanec — Andrew Shaw

Victor MeteJeff Petry

Mike ReillyNoah Juulsen

Xavier OuelletJordie Benn

Antti Niemi

Charlie Lindgren

Scratched: Karl Alzner, Matthew Peca, Nikita Scherbak, Carey Price (flu)

Injured: Jacob de la Rose (cardiac), Shea Weber (knee), Nicolas Deslauriers (facial fracture), David Schlemko (knee)


Status report

Maatta returns after he was scratched Thursday. … Rust will remain on the top line with Crosby and Guentzel. He switched spots with Hornqvist, who remains with Brassard and Simon, during the second period against Vegas. … Drouin and Byron will flip places in the lineup with Drouin playing with Domi and Lehkonen. … Lindgren was recalled on an emergency basis from Laval of the American Hockey League.


Stat pack

Malkin had his second three-point game of the season Thursday. He has six points (one goal, five assists) in three games. … Byron has four points (two goals, two assists) in three games.

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