Florida: 4-3-0 (8PTS)
Montreal: 1-4-2 (4PTS)
Season Series: 0-0-0
Game Time: 7:30 PM EDT
Television: Fox Sports Florida, RDS
Radio: 560 WQAM
Despite back to back shutout losses to the Capitals and Sabres last week, the Panthers are off to their best start in three seasons. Tonight they find themselves facing a Canadiens team that has one win in seven games and is sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Fans are unhappy and already calling for the coach to be fired. That coach? Former Panthers bench boss and general manager Jacques Martin. Martin was fired as coach after three seasons of missing the playoffs by a couple of points, but inexplicably kept as general manager. He hired his own replacement, Peter DeBoer, and then headed off to coach the Canadiens at the end of the following season. It is an interesting turn that the Panthers could possibly be the team that pushes Martin out of the job he took when he left them.
News and Notes
The Panthers were shut out 4-0 at home by Carey Price in early March. Hal Gill scoreg the game winner. Gill's previous goal was a season earlier, also at Florida. Goaltender Tomas Vokoun let in two goals on three shots and was replaced by Scott Clemmensen.
When Tim Kennedy and Bracken Kearns remained on the roster after Thursday's loss against the Sabres, fans and the media assumed that the team didn't expect Shawn Matthias (illness) and Sean Bergenheim (core injury) back in the lineup. But Dale Tallon decided his team needed a wake up call after being shut out two games in a row and was working on a trade. Kennedy would take Bergenheim's place as he missed his second game with a core injury, but fan favorite David Booth was told right before warm-ups that he'd been traded to Vancouver and Bracken Kearns took his spot in the lineup. The Panthers responded by beating the Islanders 4-2 at home, on the strength of a three point night from Matthias, who had an empty net goal and assists on a goal by Matt Bradley and on Kennedy's game winner. Goaltender Jacob Markstrom started the third period in relief of an ailing Jose Theodore and stood strong against an 18 shot Islander onslaught to get his first NHL win.
New Panther Marco Sturm (16) joined the Panthers in Montreal today. New Panther Mikael Samuelsson (26) has some minor injuries and is staying in Vancouver and working out for a few days. Sean Bergenheim's injury is worse than originally thought and he has not made the road trip. Mike Santorelli skated on the fourth line in the morning skate and will play in the game. Tim Kennedy, called up on Thursday, remains on the roster while Bracken Kearns has been returned to San Antonio.
- G Scott Clemmensen (knee), 9/26, 3-8 weeks
- F Sean Bergenheim (core), 10/20, 1-2 weeks
- F Mikael Samuelsson (unknown), 10/24, day to day
Jose Theodore left Saturday's game with an unspecified injury. Although Jacob Markstrom is expected to start tonight, both goalies practiced and Coach Dineen has not named a starter for the game. The Canadiens, who have yet to win at home, will change things up and give Peter Budaj his first start at Bell Centre this evening.
Lines (from morning skate)