The Habs (7-4-1) are down south for Valentine’s Day, they take on the Panthers (4-6-2) Thursday night in Florida. The game starts at 7:30 on RDS and TSN.
The Canadiens have already beaten the Panthers 4-1 at home in the Bell Centre, that was the first of three meetings this year. The game marked Alex Galchenyuk’s first and only NHL goal. Andrei Markov also had a pair of goals in the victory, his first since November 9, 2010.
What To Watch:
For a third time in four games the Canadiens blew a third period lead Tuesday in Tampa. Three big stops from Carey Price and a big goal from David Desharnais in the shootout helped the Habs escape with 2 points, but the team knows they should have been sharper. Erik Cole’s struggles continue, he has gone four games without a point and is -4 over that span.
The Panthers are coming off a meltdown of their own giving up two goals to the Caps in the last five minutes and change of the third period on Tuesday. They then the game winner in the opening minute of overtime. Jonathan Huberdeau did have two goals in that game, the St Jerome native is up to 5 goals and 8 points in 12 games this season.
What’s at Stake:
The Habs are looking to put a disappointing string of games behind them. The Canadiens have recently slipped behind the Senators and the Leafs in the standings but they can hold pace with another win in the state of Florida.
The season is already a quarter over for the Habs and the team has done better than expected. Although they’ve played 12 games, the Habs have only played 4 on the road. The Canadiens have yet to take an extended road trip, in fact, this is the first time they play two straight road games. Montreal has looked good on home ice this season so a good showing on the road should see the team safely through to the postseason.
Petteri Nokelainen (back) is still sidelined but the Habs are healthy otherwise. Defensemen Tomas Kaberle and Yannick Weber have struggled to see game time this season. Weber has only played once this year and Kaberle has been a healthy scratch the last 5 games.
The Panthers are missing captain Ed Jovanovski (knee), Scottie Upshall (ankle), Michael Caruso (arm), Sean Bergenheim (groin) and Matt Bradley (concussion). They could also be without Kris Versteeg who missed practice Wednesday with an undisclosed injury.
The Canadiens have been perfect this season against teams outside their division. The Habs are 5-0-0 against teams outside the Northeast and 4-0-0 against Southeast division teams. The Carolina Hurricanes are the only team from Florida’s division that Montreal hasn’t faced, but they’ll get the chance next Monday.
Be sure to tune into the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show an hour before the puck drop and the Post Game Show 5 minutes after the final siren.