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Game Preview: Canadiens @ Panthers

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

CANADIENS (43-20-7) @ PANTHERS (31-24-14)

The Canadiens wrap-up their east coast road trip in Florida on Tuesday against the Panthers.

Coming off a 4-2 loss in Tampa on Monday, the Habs will play their remaining game in hand over the Lightning in Sunrise, with the opportunity to distance themselves atop the Atlantic Division standings with a win against the Panthers. Montreal and Tampa are tied for first in the division with 93 points each.

The Panthers meanwhile are still in the hunt for a wildcard spot, sitting just six points back of the eighth-place Boston Bruins and one point back of the Ottawa Senators with 13 games to play.

Dan Ellis will likely make a sixth-consecutive start for the Panthers between the pipes. Briefly a Hab in 2010, Ellis has started every game for the Panthers since goaltenders Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya were both injured on March 3.

The 34-year-old netminder has won three of his last five starts, blanking the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday before dropping a 2-1 decision against the New York Rangers on Sunday.

Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien has not confirmed whether he will make any changes to the lineup in Florida. On Monday in Tampa, Nathan Beaulieu was sidelined with the flu while veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar was a healthy scratch for a second game in a row.

The Habs and Panthers have split their two meetings this season so far, each winning in a shootout on the road.

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