Penguins Notebook -- Crosby OK to play vs. Canadiens

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Sidney Crosby did everything he deemed necessary during practice yesterday to confirm that a bruised foot won't prevent him from playing when the Penguins face Montreal at 7:38 p.m. today at Mellon Arena.

And at least one thing that he didn't.

It proved to not be a problem, however, because even though Crosby said he took several pucks off the outside of his right foot -- the same place Anaheim's Francois Beauchemin hit him with a shot in the Penguins' 5-4 victory Saturday -- during the workout, he had no particular pain or damage.

"It was a nice little test," he said. "And it felt OK."

Crosby has maintained since X-rays failed to detect a fracture that he would dress for tonight's game, and his competitive instincts are keen enough that it really wouldn't matter who the opponent is.

Still, the Canadiens were his favorite team when he was younger, and Crosby doesn't pretend that games against Montreal are just another night at the rink.

"I think it is [a big game] for everyone," he said. "The last few games have been pretty intense against them. It's always an emotional game."

Nice pedigree

Although Montreal goalie Carey Price is scheduled to make his NHL debut tonight, he isn't exactly an unknown commodity for the Penguins.

Not just because they faced him during an exhibition game at the Bell Centre last month, but also because of Price's many high-profile accomplishments on his way to the NHL.

Last season, he was named goaltender of the year in major-junior hockey and the outstanding performer at the world junior championships, where he led Canada to a gold medal.

Not a bad year's work, but Price was nowhere near finished. After completing his season with Tri-City in the Western Hockey League, he joined the Canadiens' American Hockey League affiliate in Hamilton and carried the Bulldogs to the Calder Cup, going 15-6 in his first venture into pro hockey.

Penguins forward Erik Christensen was wrapping up his WHL career when Price was just getting established there. And while he remembers Price, Christensen says he is a different goaltender than he was four years ago.

"He looks taller [6 feet 3] than what I remember in junior," Christensen said. "He's filled out a bit. He covers the net more. He's a lot like Marc[-Andre Fleury], where he's not a small goalie and he moves so well."

Forward Jordan Staal didn't face Price during the game in Montreal but watched him that night and professed to be impressed.

"He looked solid," Staal said. "He let in a few goals, but they weren't bad goals. He kind of just lets the puck hit him, then worries about the rest."

Price, by the way, isn't the only prominent Montreal prospect scheduled to make his first NHL appearance this evening. Forward Kyle Chipchura, claimed with the 18th choice in the 2004 entry draft, is penciled in on the Canadiens' fourth line with Mathieu Dandenault and Steve Begin.

Slap shots

Former Penguin Alex Kovalev is expected to play with Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn on the Canadiens' second line; ex-Penguins Bryan Smolinski and Tom Kostopoulos will team up with Guillaume Latendresse on the No. 3 unit. ... The game will be Penguins defenseman Darryl Sydor's 1,100th in the NHL, while Jarkko Ruutu will be appearing in his 350th if he returns to the lineup. ... Left winger Gary Roberts is closing in on a milestone, too: He's two penalty minutes shy of 2,500 for his career. ... A team spokesman said "several hundred" tickets, mostly singles, for the game were available yesterday. ... Penguins prospect Tyler Kennedy was named AHL Player of the Week after getting three goals and two assists in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's first three games of the season.


Dave Molinari can be reached at DWMolinari@Yahoo.com .


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