Price's problems with Pens persist

Price's problems with Pens persist

Most NHL goaltenders can’t hold a candle to Montreal’s Carey Price. Something goes awry, however, whenever the 29-year-old encounters Pittsburgh.

Price hopes to exorcise those demons tonight, when the two Eastern Conference heavyweights meet in the Steel City. Alas, oddsmakers at online sports book Bovada.lv list the Penguins as 1.5-goal favorites. The Canadiens enter PPG Paints Arena as +135 underdogs.

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In the process of putting together another Vezina Trophy-worthy campaign, Price ranks in the league’s top five in both GAA (1.99) and save percentage (.931). Yet the Vancouver native is just 4-5-3 over his last 12 assignments against Sidney Crosby & Co. The Habs (22-9-5) aren’t exactly bulldozing the competition at the moment, either, having dropped three of four.

Pittsburgh (24-8-5), though, should be quite pleased with itself heading into 2017. Crosby’s riding a six-game point streak, and coach Mike Sullivan continues to receive superb work from netminder Marc-Andre Fleury. The veteran boasts a 5-0-1 mark since Dec. 3. Fleury could see the lion’s share of starts next month, too, considering wunderkind Matt Murray’s recent upper-body injury.

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If the Pens keep Max Pacioretty in check, they’ve got an excellent chance of improving to 17-2-2 at home. Montreal’s top-tier forward has already notched 15 points this month. But we get the feeling that nobody — not even Crosby — will enjoy a transcendent offensive performance in a matchup featuring such esteemed guardians of the crease.

SATURDAY NHL FREE PICK: CANADIENS/PENGUINS UNDER 5.5 GOALS

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