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game preview

Canadiens at Panthers preview

Florida seeks seventh straight home win; Julien to coach 250th game with Montreal

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

CANADIENS (25-30-11) at PANTHERS (32-25-7)

7:30 p.m. ET; FS-F, TSN2, RDS, NHL.TV


The Game

The Florida Panthers will try for their seventh consecutive home victory when they face the Montreal Canadiens at BB&T Center on Thursday.

The Panthers are two points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference with three games in hand.

Florida, which lost 5-4 in overtime at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, is in the midst of a stretch of 11 out of 12 games at BB&T Center.

The Canadiens are 0-1-1 in their past two games and are 12 points behind Columbus.

The game will be Claude Julien's 250th as Canadiens coach.


Players to watch

Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk has three goals and two assists during a four-game point streak.

Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov has five goals and seven assists during his season-high seven-game point streak.


They said it

"It's important we start right against the same kind of team. The team we played (Tuesday) was desperate, they had lost three in a row and were trying to make a playoff run and so (are the Panthers). Hopefully, we're ready for that." - Canadiens coach Claude Julien on rebounding from a 6-4 loss at the New Jersey Devils in which his team trailed 4-0 in the first period.

"Between him and (Aleksander Barkov), I think they've really carried this team. (Luongo) has been playing his best hockey I've seen in a long, long time." - Panthers coach Bob Boughner.

Canadiens projected lineup

Alex Galchenyuk -- Jonathan Drouin -- Artturi Lehkonen

Nikita Scherbak -- Phillip Danault -- Brendan Gallagher

Paul Byron -- Jacob de la Rose -- Andrew Shaw

Nicolas Deslauriers -- Byron Froese -- Daniel Carr

Mike Reilly -- Jeff Petry

Karl Alzner -- Noah Juulsen

Jordie Benn -- Rinat Valiev

Antti Niemi

Charlie Lindgren

Scratched: David Schlemko, Logan Shaw

Injured: Carey Price (concussion), Ales Hemsky (concussion), Charles Hudon (hand), Victor Mete (hand), Max Pacioretty (lower body)


Panthers projected lineup

Evgenii Dadonov -- Aleksander Barkov -- Nick Bjugstad

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Vincent Trocheck -- Radim Vrbata

Jamie McGinn -- Jared McCann -- Maxim Mamin

Micheal Haley -- Derek MacKenzie -- Colton Sceviour

Keith Yandle -- Aaron Ekblad

Mike Matheson -- Mark Pysyk

MacKenzie Weegar -- Alexander Petrovic

Roberto Luongo

James Reimer

Scratched: Connor Brickley, Ian McCoshen

Injured: Frank Vatrano (ankle), Denis Malgin (lower body)


Status report

The Canadiens did not hold a morning skate. Niemi, who sustained a lower-body injury Saturday against the Boston Bruins, practiced Wednesday and could start. … Vatrano and Malgin took part in the Panthers' optional skate. Vatrano might play against the New York Rangers on Saturday. The Panthers are hoping Malgin will return next week.


Stat pack

Montreal is 0-for-9 on the power play in its past three games. … Barkov has 66 points and needs four more to become the first Panthers player to reach 70 since 2007-08, when Olli Jokinen did it. Dadonov has four consecutive two-point games (two goals, six assists).

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