No Carey Price, no problem.
That’s been the story for the Montreal Canadiens over the last week, as Price — the league’s reigning MVP — has been sidelined with a lower body injury. All the Habs have done in his absence is win four of five, paced by the impressive play of backup netminder Mike Condon and the NHL’s top-ranked offense.
But tonight, a real test, taking on a Pittsburgh team that’s won nine of its last 11 while emerging as one of the stingiest teams in the league.
The Penguins come into tonight’s action allowing the third-fewest goals in the NHL. It’s a bit of a strange turn, given all the offensive talent at head coach Mike Johnston’s disposal — Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, the list goes on — but the Penguins are now committed to a more structured, defensively-oriented approach.
And it’s paid off.
Coming into tonight’s action, the Pens sit fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 9-5-0 record, and 18 points.
The team they’re looking up at in the standings?
First-place Montreal, off to the best start in franchise history (13-2-1) while sitting atop the league with 27 points.