3 Keys: Canadiens vs. Penguins, Game 1 of Cup Qualifiers

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fairly easy
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens open their best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifier series at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the Eastern Conference hub city, on Saturday.
The Penguins are attempting to move on to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a chance to win the Cup for the third time in five seasons after winning consecutive championships in 2016 and 2017. They defeated the Canadiens in two of three meetings this season, including the two most recent (3-2 in overtime on Jan. 4 and 4-1 on Feb. 14).

Montreal is looking to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2017. It last faced Pittsburgh in the postseason in 2010, when it won 4-3 in a best-of-7 series in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

There hasn't been a best-of-5 series in the NHL since 1986. The League used them for the preliminary round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs from 1980-86, and the team that won Game 1 went on to win the series 87.5 percent of the time (49 of 56).

Here are three keys to Game 1:

1. Crosby and Guentzel reunited

Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel will play together in a game that is not an exhibition for the first time since Nov. 9, when Crosby was injured before having core muscle surgery Nov. 14. He returned Jan. 14, but Guentzel had shoulder surgery Dec. 31, which caused him to miss the rest of the regular season.

The forwards will be back on the top line with Crosby at center and Guentzel at left wing, joined by Conor Sheary on right wing. Crosby had 47 points (16 goals, 31 assists) in 41 games this season;…
Wes Crosby
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