It’s a waiting game for forwards Brandon Pirri, Matt Puempel and to some extent, defenseman Adam Clendening.
The trade deadline is a week away and each was a healthy scratch again Tuesday night.
Pirri, signed as a free agent in August, hasn’t played at all in February, missing nine games. Puempel was claimed off waivers from Ottawa in November, and had played just once in the last seven, about eight minutes against the Islanders, when coach Alain Vigneault sat Pavel Buchnevich.
“It’s part of the business,” Puempel said recently. “Sometimes guys get hurt or get a game off, so you have to be ready.” Puempel has played 32 games, with six goals — including a hat trick in Arizona.
Clendening, the clubs’ seventh defenseman, has played 21 games, including three of the last six when blueliners were banged up or ill.
All are restricted free agents and would have to clear waivers, and it is believed that the front office doesn’t want to risk losing them for nothing, although without another defenseman on the 23-man roster, Clendening’s spot is more secure.
Ranta expected to get a start
With back-to-back 5 p.m games in New Jersey on Friday and at the Garden against Columbus on Saturday, Antti Raanta (11-5-0, 2.32, .920) is expected to start one of the matches. It would be his first since Feb. 13 in Columbus, when he made 30 saves in a 3-2 win. His previous appearance, in relief of Henrik Lundqvist in a 6-4 loss, also came against Columbus on Jan. 31.
The Canadiens’ Paul Byron stung goalie Carey Price with a shot to the left shoulder and Price left the ice with 3 minutes left in warmups. But he shook it off and started. He also survived getting his helmet being knocked off by teammate Shea Weber in the first . . . Alumni Stephane Matteau, Chris Nilan and Gilles Villemure greeted fans as part of the team’s 90th anniversary events.