NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, January 4th (All times eastern)
Florida Panthers (17-16-5) at Montreal Canadiens (21-10-6), 2 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The All-Star heavy Montreal Canadiens seek a fifth straight win over the Florida Panthers this afternoon, as the two clubs square off at the Bell Centre.
After losing four in a row to the Panthers, the Canadiens have responded with four straight victories, taking the final two meetings last year before a pair of victories this season.
Montreal notched a home win over Florida back on October 20 to halt a three- game home losing streak to the Panthers and then posted a 5-2 victory in Sunrise last Monday in a contest that featured the first hat trick of Maxim Lapierre's career.
That win over the Panthers was part of a three-game overall winning streak that ended in Friday's 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils. With Carey Price out due to a lower-body ailment, Jaroslav Halak allowed three goals on 22 shots before being lifted in favor of Marc Denis, who halted six shots over 20 minutes in his Montreal debut. Denis had spent the last two seasons with Tampa Bay.
Price, who has won his last three starts, is questionable for today and is 2-1-0 with a 2.00 goals against average in three games lifetime against Florida. Halak won his lone start versus the Panthers, halting 35-of-36 shots in the October home victory.
Max Pacioretty, Montreal's first-round pick and 22nd overall selection of the 2007 draft, made his NHL debut on Friday and scored his first-career goal. Kyle Chipchura added an assist in what was his second game of the season.
Montreal will play three of its next four at home, where it is 11-4-4 this season. After a road game versus the Rangers on Wednesday, the Canadiens return to the Bell Centre for tests against Toronto and Washington.
The Habs will do so with four All-Star starters on their roster. On Saturday, Price, forward Alexei Kovalev and defensemen Andrei Markov and Mike Komisarek were all announced as starters for the January 25 contest that will take place at the Bell Centre.
That is what the Panthers will be up against today as they play for a second straight day. Florida halted both a four-game overall losing streak and four- game skid on the road Saturday in Pittsburgh with a 6-1 victory.
Nathan Horton scored twice, with his second tally capping a three-goal second period for Florida. Bryan McCabe and Richard Zednik also scored in the frame, with McCabe adding an assist.
Ville Peltonen and Michael Frolik each tallied once and Craig Anderson stopped 29 shots. Cory Stillman, Nick Boynton, Keith Ballard and Stephen Weiss each picked up two assists in a victory that improved the Panthers to 1-1 on a four-game road trip and 9-11-2 overall as the visiting club this season.
01/04 10:33:28 ET