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Game preview: MTL vs. FLA

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
PANTHERS (16-20-6) @ CANADIENS (24-14-5)

Having lost its two previous encounters against Florida this season, the Habs hope that third time is a charm by attempting to down the Panthers Monday at the Bell Centre.

Despite a three-point night by Daniel Briere, the Canadiens succumbed 4-3 in overtime against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. Briere had two goals and an assist, and helped his team close a two-goal gap in the third period to force extra time. However, the visiting team converted on a four-on-three powerplay in OT to seal the win. Carey Price had 30 saves in the loss. On a more encouraging note, coach Michel Therrien’s squad now has points in five of its last six outings.

On their end, the Panthers also needed to work overtime in their last game, disposing of the Nashville Predators 5-4 in the shootout. Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkob, Brad Boyes and Marcel Goc each had two points, while Tomas Kopecky had the game winner in the sixth round of the shootout. Tim Thomas made 38 saves on 42 shots and notched his tenth win of the season.

The Canadiens will attempt to defeat coach Peter Horacek’s team for the first time this season. On December 29th, the Habs were on the wrong end of a 4-1 decision played in Florida. The Panther had previous won 2-1 in Montreal on December 15th.

This time around, the Panthers will have their captain Ed Jovanovski back in the lineup. The 37 years-old defenseman played his first game of the season on Saturday after undergoing hip resurfacing treatment, an intensive procedure done in lieu of a total hip replacement. Jovanovski took part in a game for the first time since March 26 2013 and became the first NHLer to make a successful comeback after undergoing such a procedure. Also in line to make a return to play is Erik Gudbranson, who'll line up with Jovanovski on the blueline.

There is a strong possibility that Michel Therrien will go with Carey Price on Monday. The Anahim Lake, BC native will therefore make his first start of the season against the Panthers. He is 5-4-0-1 against lifetime against Florida, posting a 1.88 goals against average. Tim Thomas will make his first start against the Habs as a Panther.

Monday’s game will be the third in the four-game season series. The last meeting will take place on March 29th in Sunrise, FL.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30PM E.S.T.

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