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Panthers-Canadiens Preview @NHL
Panthers-Canadiens Preview

GAME: Florida Panthers (6-5-1) at Montreal Canadiens (8-3-1).

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

Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo may still feel some butterflies when he plays his hometown team.

Luongo will try to even his record against the Montreal Canadiens when the Panthers visit the Bell Centre for the first time this season.

Luongo is 5-6-3 with a 2.64 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 15 career starts against the Canadiens. At Montreal, he is 2-3-2 with 2.21 GAA, a .930 save percentage and one shutout.

With backup Jamie McLennan getting a rare start in Monday's 2-1 loss at Toronto, Luongo is expected to be back in net Tuesday.

Gary Roberts scored 26 seconds into Tuesday's game for the Panthers, but Florida lost its second straight.

Each of Florida's last three losses have been by one goal. The Panthers have dropped four of their last five on the road.

Generating offense remains a problem for Florida, which has scored 28 goals this season. Only Washington (25) and Columbus (23) have scored fewer.

Montreal returns home after an impressive road win Monday.

Steve Begin's shorthanded goal in the third period snapped a tie and helped the Canadiens to a 4-1 victory over the New York Rangers in the back end of a home-and-home series.

After getting pulled after one period in Saturday's 5-2 loss to the Rangers, Jose Theodore was much sharper on Monday, stopping 23 of 24 shots.

"The last game, as a team, myself, I didn't think we played the way we should," Theodore said. "I was unhappy with the way I played so today was a big challenge for us to play well and for me to bounce back."

Montreal, which took over sole possession of first place in the Northeast Division, has gained at least a point in five of its last six games (4-1-1).

While the Canadiens are unbeaten on the road at 5-0-1, they have struggled at home, managing two goals in each of their three losses.

Canadiens captain Saku Koivu has six goals and 15 assists in 21 career games against the Panthers.

STANDINGS: Panthers - 13 points, 3rd place, 4 PB, Southeast Division. Canadiens - 17 points, 1st place, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Panthers - Nathan Horton, 6 goals; Olli Jokinen and Mike Van Ryn, 7 assists; Jokinen, 10 points; Branislav Mezei, 33 PIM. Canadiens - Mike Ribeiro, 6 goals; Alexei Kovalev, 8 assists and 11 points; Mike Komisarek, 21 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Panthers - Power play: 14.6 percent (11 for 75), 25th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.8 percent (63 for 77), 16th. Canadiens - Power play: 17.5 percent (14 for 80), 17th. Penalty killing: 83.1 percent (69 for 83), tied for 12th.

GOALTENDERS: Panthers - Luongo (6-4-1, 2 SO, 2.59 GAA); McLennan (0-1-0, 1.59). Canadiens - Theodore (7-3-1, 2.98); Yann Danis (1-0-0, 1, 1.20).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Panthers, 3-0-1.

LAST MEETING: March 11, 2004. Panthers, 3-2 (OT). At Montreal, Jokinen scored the game-winner 89 seconds into overtime.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Panthers - 2-4-1 on the road; Canadiens - 3-3-0 at home.

Associated Press
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