Canadiens first-round draft picks Louis Leblanc and Nathan Beaulieu will be in the lineup Wednesday when the Canadiens play the Penguins in Pittsburgh (7 p.m., TSN, RDS, TSN Radio 690).
Leblanc was called up from the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs late Monday afternoon and Beaulieu was recalled on Sunday after playing the night before against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Penguins lead the Eastern Conference with 70 points, 11 points more than the fourth- place Canadiens. The Habs won their last battle with the Penguins, a 3-2 victory at the Bell Centre on Nov. 23 when Tomas Plekanec’s line kept Sidney Crosby off the scoresheet.
“We’re all aware of the challenge that awaits us there,” coach Michel Therrien said.
The Canadiens will have to play a really tight game because if they give the Penguins time and space they’ll hurt you, Therrien said.
“We’ll have to follow the game plan to the letter,” the coach added.
It’s the second time that Leblanc has been called up this season. He practised Tuesday on a line centred by Michaël Bournival with Travis Moen.
“It feels good,” Leblanc said after practice about being back with the Habs. “It was a long wait. You never know with the injuries up here and whatnot. I’m happy to be back and it’s always fun to be in Montreal.”
Leblanc, who has nine goals and 11 assists in 36 games this season with the Bulldogs, said he feels his season has been going well.
“I’m contributing offensively and also improving my defensive game,” Leblanc said. “Getting better on the (penalty kill). Just little details of the game that I never really paid attention to before in my career and it’s for sure helping me out.”
Carey Price will start in net for the Canadiens in Pittsburgh.
Alex Galchenyuk, who is out with a fractured hand, skated on his own for the second day Tuesday. Ryan White (upper-body injury) also skated, but Therrien said the injury has been slow to heal.
“We’re still talking about weeks,” the coach said.
Here’s how the lines and defence pairings looked at practice:
(Photo by John Mahoney/The Gazette)