After a difficult home loss to a struggling opponent, the Montreal Canadiens hope to rebound Tuesday against another one when they host the Florida Panthers.
The Canadiens (13-6-3) allowed three second-period goals Saturday and had their season-high three-game winning streak snapped with a 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers - the team with the worst record in the Eastern Conference.
"It seems that the second period is the problem for us in a lot of games," Canadiens captain Saku Koivu said. "We lose our focus and make some mental mistakes, and we lose that momentum that we have. We just needed one or two more goals in the first to really get things going, but that didn't happen tonight."
The Canadiens have given up 13 goals in the second period over the past eight games while allowing a total of nine in the other two periods. They have won five of those contests, but in each of the losses the game-winning goal was scored in the second, including a 5-1 defeat to Florida on Nov. 16.
The Panthers (8-13-4) snapped a season-high four-game losing streak with that win. They enter this matchup on a three-game skid after losing 1-0 at Atlanta on Saturday.
"There were some second chances and rebounds," Florida captain Olli Jokinen said. "The puck is not bouncing our way right now."
The win over Montreal is one of only two for the Panthers in their last 10 games (2-6-2). The only team in the East with fewer points this season than Florida's 20 is Philadelphia (17).
Goaltending continues to be an issue for the Panthers, as both Alex Auld and Ed Belfour have struggled. That duo has combined to allow 86 goals, second-most in the conference to Philadelphia's league-high 93.
Auld, who made 27 saves on Saturday, is 1-8-1 with a 3.64 goals-against average in his last 10 starts, while Belfour is 1-3-1 with a 3.36 GAA in his last five.
Both goalies have had success against Montreal. Belfour made 27 saves in Florida's win earlier this month, giving him five consecutive victories over the Canadiens with a 2.55 GAA.
Auld won his lone start against the Original Six club, making 24 saves on Jan. 21 for Vancouver.
The Canadiens hope to take advantage of Florida's suspect goaltending, as the team has only managed one goal in each of the last three meetings with the Panthers, winning once.
Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau, who claimed he would play the hot goaltender throughout the season, may opt to use Cristobal Huet on Tuesday.
Huet has won his last five starts while posting a 1.53 GAA. He had a 24-save shutout on March 2 in his only start against the Panthers.
David Aebischer has lost three in a row, including Saturday's defeat, as he's given up four goals each time and been pulled before the third period began in two of those starts. He has dropped both of his meetings with Florida, posting a 4.22 GAA.