Though the Pittsburgh Penguins’ star scorers remain healthy, the team’s chances of just making the playoffs are in jeopardy.
The Canadiens, missing Lang after he suffered a potentially serious Achilles’ injury, look to end their struggles when they face the reeling Penguins on Tuesday night.
Montreal (28-16-6) lost for the fifth time in six games Sunday, 3-1 to Northeast rival Boston. The Canadiens went 11-1-2 prior to their current slump, but they’re 18 points behind the Bruins, who lead the league with 80 points.
Montreal may be without Lang for a while. The veteran center, who tops the Canadiens with 18 goals, left midway through the third period versus the Bruins after suffering a cut left Achilles’ tendon.
“It doesn’t look good,” Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said.
The former Penguin favored his left leg as he was helped off the ice.
Losing Lang would certainly be tough for Montreal, which will be trying to avoid dropping consecutive home games in regulation for the second time this season.
The Canadiens may also be without winger Guillaume Latendresse, who was helped off the ice against Boston after falling heavily into the boards after being checked. Latendresse, in his third year, has nine goals and nine assists.
Montreal is already short-handed on the blue line, with Josh Gorges being held out versus the Bruins. He was forced to leave Saturday’s 4-3 win over Los Angeles after taking a blow to the head.
Defenseman Alex Henry was recalled from Hamilton of the AHL and made his Montreal debut in place of Gorges, who’s unlikely to play Tuesday.
Pittsburgh (24-22-5) remains without All-Star defenseman Sergei Gonchar (shoulder), although star forwards Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby continue to produce at a high level. That hasn’t kept the Penguins from going 1-2-1 after winning three of their previous four.
The defending Eastern Conference champions are two points behind eighth-place Carolina.
“We understand the purpose of the playoff push that we’re facing all together,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. “The guys are very excited.”
Pittsburgh fell 5-4 to Toronto on Saturday night, dropping to 1-5-1 in its last seven road games after winning its previous three. The Penguins got a couple of days to regroup after losing to one of the league’s worst teams.
“Whether it’s a team above you or below you, you still have to give yourself a chance to win,” Crosby said.
Crosby led NHL scorers last week with eight points (three goals, five assists) in three games. He has 68 points (20 goals, 48 assists) on the season, second in the league to Malkin’s 75 points (21 goals, 54 assists).
Crosby has seven goals and 11 assists in 11 games versus the Canadiens, while Malkin has four goals and 10 assists in nine games against them.
Malkin was held off the scoresheet in Pittsburgh’s first meeting with Montreal this season, a 3-2 Canadiens road win Dec. 27. Crosby had a goal and an assist, while Montreal winger Andrei Kostitsyn recorded a hat trick.