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Canadiens-Panthers Preview @NHLdotcom
Canadiens-Panthers Preview

GAME: Montreal Canadiens (18-11-6) at Florida Panthers (14-20-5).

TIME: Friday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The Florida Panthers look to extend their home unbeaten streak to six games when they take on the Montreal Canadiens, who have struggled on the road lately.

Panthers captain Olli Jokinen has scored 13 of his 18 goals at home this year, including two in Wednesday's 6-4 victory over the Boston Bruins. Jokinen, who also had an assist, extended his points streak to eight games with six goals and eight assists in that span.

The line of Jokinen, Gary Roberts and Chris Gratton combined for eight points in the win.

"Olli is doing everything for us," said Gratton, who added a goal and an assist Wednesday. "He's a big, physical guy, and he's getting to the net for us. He's playing with a lot of confidence."

Florida is 4-0-1 in its last five home games and has 11 of its 14 wins this season on home ice.

"I think in the last three or four games they've really picked up their intensity and they've been getting a lot of pucks at the net and really driving to the net," Panthers coach Jacques Martin said. "Jokinen is using his speed and is getting more shots."

Although the Panthers scored six or more goals Wednesday for just the third time this season, they were shut out on the power play for the second straight game.

Florida's power play is the league's worst, converting only 14.9 percent of its chances.

The Canadiens hope their road woes are in the past after a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday snapped their nine-game losing streak away from home. Montreal narrowly avoided matching the team record of 10 consecutive road losses set Jan. 16-March 13, 1926.

Canadiens' goaltender Jose Theodore returned to make 41 saves in the win after missing four games with a knee injury.

"We needed two points in the standings," Theodore said. "We've been sliding, so it was nice to see us respond."

Alex Kovalev had two assists in the win, improving the Canadiens' record to 6-0-1 when he has at least two points.

Canadiens captain and leading scorer Saku Koivu has missed four games with a groin injury and is listed as day-to-day.

STANDINGS: Canadiens - 42 points, 4th place, 13 PB, Northeast Division. Panthers - 33 points, 4th place, 17 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canadiens - Michael Ryder, 16 goals; Koivu, 19 assists and 27 points; Steve Begin, 87 PIM. Panthers - Jokinen, 18 goals, 23 assists and 41 points; Gratton, 59 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Canadiens - Power play: 18.4 percent (41 for 223), 11th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.0 percent (188 for 232), 21st. Panthers - Power play: 14.9 percent (30 for 201), 24th (tied). Penalty killing: 81.9 percent (208 for 254), 17th.

GOALTENDERS: Canadiens - Theodore (14-7-5, 3.06 GAA); Cristobal Huet (1-2-1, 3.67). Panthers - Roberto Luongo (14-16-5, 2 SO, 3.11); Jamie McLennan (0-4-0, 3.10).

SEASON SERIES: Canadiens, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 15; Panthers, 4-3. At Montreal, Koivu had two goals and an assist while Richard Zednik added a goal and an assist to lead the Habs.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canadiens - 7-6-4 on the road; Panthers - 11-6-2 at home.

Associated Press

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