(Sports Network) - The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to record consecutive wins for the first time in two weeks when they visit the struggling Montreal Canadiens tonight at the Bell Centre.
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The Penguins ended a two-game slide with an 8-1 blowout victory over visiting Tampa Bay on Wednesday. It was just the second victory in the last five games (2-2-1) for Pittsburgh, which is still leading the Eastern Conference with 55 points.
Pittsburgh last posted consecutive wins during a three-game winning streak from Dec. 20-23.
Evgeni Malkin scored seven seconds into Wednesday's game for Pittsburgh and the Pens never let up in their thrashing of the Southeast Division-leading Lightning.
Chris Kunitz had the second hat trick of his career, Alex Goligoski had a goal and three assists, while Chris Conner and Tyler Kennedy each added a goal and an assist for the Penguins, who bounced back from a 3-1 loss to Washington in the Winter Classic on New Year's Day at Heinz Field.
"We had a great start tonight," said Kunitz. "It's something we haven't had in previous games. We got on them right away and didn't let up. It's a real credit to all the guys."
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 31 shots for Pittsburgh, which is 12-5-2 as the visiting team this season.
The Canadiens, meanwhile, have been in a funk for nearly a month now and they enter tonight with just three wins in their last 12 games (3-8-1). Yet, the Habs are still just three points behind Boston for first place in the Northeast Division.
Montreal halted a three-game slide with an overtime victory at Florida on New Year's Eve, but the Canadiens were on the wrong end of an OT decision when they returned home to face Atlanta on Sunday. Jacques Martin's club hasn't won consecutive contests since a three-game winning streak from Dec. 2-7.
Dustin Byfuglien's power-play goal with 1:17 left in overtime was the difference in Sunday's setback to the visiting Thrashers.
Atlanta found itself on the man advantage during extra time after a P.K. Subban hooking penalty. The Thrashers patiently worked the puck during most of the power play and finally Byfuglien found an open slot from the left circle to rip a shot past Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.
"We did some good things in this game," Gionta said. "But a couple of mistakes, a couple of breakdowns led to goals. Overall, considering where we've been the last couple of weeks, it was a pretty good effort. It was a pretty good effort getting one point out of it."
Price surrendered four goals on 28 shots in the losing effort. He is 5-4-0 with a 2.88 goals-against average in 10 career games against the Penguins and stopped 36-of-38 shots in Montreal's 3-2 victory in Pittsburgh back on Oct. 9.
The Canadiens have won two straight against Pittsburgh after a five-game series' losing streak. The Penguins have taken four of their last six in Montreal.
Montreal is 12-5-3 as the host this year and will complete a three-game homestand in its next game Saturday against Boston.