Canadiens vs. Penguins
Pittsburgh, PA - The Pittsburgh Penguins were disappointed to come up empty in the first game at their new arena, but that hardly matched the dejection they felt after losing the last game in their old building.
The Montreal Canadiens closed Mellon Arena by shocking the Penguins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, and they'll get a chance to drop Pittsburgh to 0-2 at Consol Energy Center when the clubs renew acquaintances Saturday night.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Penguins –230 money line favorites for Saturday's game against the Canadiens. Current MLB Public Betting Information shows that 67% of more than 667 bets for this game have been placed on the Penguins -230.
Pittsburgh (0-1-0) was the East's highest remaining seed after the first round of the playoffs last spring, which included eighth-seeded Montreal stunning No. 1 Washington in seven games.
The Canadiens' run didn't stop there. They trailed 3-2 in their series with the fourth-seeded Penguins but won Game 6 at home and cruised to a 5-2 Game 7 victory at Mellon Arena, closing Pittsburgh's 43-year-old venue and sending home the defending Stanley Cup champions much earlier than expected.
"You don't win every year," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "It's tough to digest the disappointment and get to some true feelings. ... I hope I never get used to it because this isn't a good feeling."
Bylsma's re-energized club moved across the street to Consol Energy Center over the summer. However, after being stifled by the relatively inexperienced Jaroslav Halak in the playoff loss to the Canadiens, the Penguins struggled against a goaltender making his NHL debut Thursday night. After two periods full of missed opportunities, Pittsburgh finally cracked Philadelphia's Sergei Bobrovsky in the third but still opened its new building with a 3-2 loss.
"We hit some posts, took some shots he didn't see," captain Sidney Crosby said. "We did some good things. You want to win the first one, every guy in here wants to, everyone that came tonight wanted to see us win it. But that's the game. It's unfortunate."
Crosby was held without a point Thursday and was limited to a goal and two assists over the final five games against Montreal (0-1-0), but he won't have to worry about solving Halak this time.
The Canadiens shipped the restricted free agent to St. Louis less than a month after falling to the Flyers in the East finals, leaving the job to one-time phenom Carey Price.
Price allowed three goals on 24 shots in a so-so opening performance Thursday in Toronto. Jeff Halpern and Dustin Boyd scored in their Montreal debuts, but new captain Brian Gionta was held off the scoresheet in the 3-2 loss.
"I was glad to chip in with that goal but we need to be better," Halpern told the team's official Web site. "It felt like we were swimming out there at times."
Montreal wasn't at full strength, though, missing defensemen Andrei Markov and Roman Hamrlik with knee injuries.
Hamrlik is likely to miss a few more games while Markov - who tore his ACL in Game 1 against Pittsburgh - could miss most of October, but the Canadiens will get Mike Cammalleri back on Saturday.The diminutive winger sat out the opener to serve a one-game suspension for an incident from the playoffs, and Pittsburgh might be wishing he'd been banned for a second game. Cammalleri led all postseason scorers with 13 goals - seven of which came against the Penguins, including four in the final three games.