Florida: 26-30-7 (59PTS)
New Jersey: 34-23-7 (75PTS)
Season Series: 1-1-1
Even those on the "Tank!" bandwagon will want to win this one. Tonight the Panthers host the Montreal Canadiens in the final game of the season series. The annual series has become a bit of a grudge match, as former GM Jacques Martin, the man who hired Panthers coach Pete DeBoer, is the head coach of the Canadiens. And though Dale Tallon is working on getting rid of most of the players from Martin's reign, the fans remember.
Last meeting: Montreal won the last game, in Montreal on February 2, 3-2 in regulation.
Last game: The Panthers played their first post-tradeline game against recently traded Panthers Cory Stillman and Bryan Allen and the Carolina Hurricanes. Stillman had a goal and an assist in the 2-1 Carolina win.
Notes: New forward Hugh Jessiman was sent back to Rochester and Bill Thomas called up to take his place. Coach Pete DeBoer, to no one's surprise, announced that Stephen Weiss is the front runner to be the next Cats captain.
Injuries: Jack Skille (day to day), High ankle sprain, unknown (2/23/2011). Ryan Carter (day to day), upper-body injury (2/12/2011). Chris Higgins, thumb, unknown (2/25/2011), Dmitry Kulikov (IR), Ankle, out 2 weeks (2/11/2011). Evgeni Dadonov (IR), broken finger, out a month (3/3/2011). Shawn Matthias (IR), broken ankle, out 6-8 weeks (1/31/2011). Rostislav Olesz, knee, out for the season (2/25/2011).
Starting goaltenders: Tomas Vokoun will start for the Panthers. He has started all three games in the series and is 1-1-1, with 7 goals allowed, 122 saves, 2.32 GAA and .946 save percentage. For the Canadiens, Alex Auld has the two wins and Carey Price the lone Montreal loss.
Lines: The lines will probably be the same as last game, but with Bill Thomas taking Hugh Jessiman's place on the fourth line.
Booth - Weiss - Bergfors
Samsonov - Santorelli - Bernier
McArdle - Reasoner - Repik
Hordichuk - Timmins - Thomas
Defense should be the same again:
By all accounts, the new-look Panthers played hard and came up short against Carolina. They're going to be the underdog in virtually every contest for the season, but look for DeBoer's squad to play hard and try to win for pride's sake if nothing else. For all of their other faults, with the exception of those recent 5-1 games, the Cats have been resilient and hard-working for most of the season.
More from our Montreal cohorts at Habs Eyes On The Prize
Canadiens vs Panthers coverage at SBNation.com
TSN Preview here.