The Florida Panthers open a three-game road trip tonight in Montreal against the Canadiens at 7:30 PM. The Panthers have owned their new Atlantic Division rival so far this season, going a perfect two for two against the Habs. Florida took the first meeting 2-1 in Montreal on December 15th, then bested the Canadiens again 4-1 in Sunrise two weeks later. The Cats enter the game on a bit of a roll with five points in their last three games. Montreal has dropped three of their last four, but did make it to overtime in two of those defeats to collect a couple of loser points.
Captain Ed Jovanovski made a successful return to the lineup in Saturday's 5-4 shootout win over Nashville. The JovoCop finished the game with a sterling +3 rating. Fellow blue-liner Erik Gudbranson could return tonight, which is a good thing as Dylan Olsen remains out and Alex Petrovic was also left home to heal from an upper-body injury suffered against the Predators.
It will be interesting to see if coach Peter Horachek comes back with Tim Thomas in goal or goes with backup Scott Clemmensen. Clemmensen has posted both wins against Montreal this season and sports a juicy 8-1 career record versus the Canadiens. Peter Budaj was the loser in both of those December games so I wouldn't be surprised to see number one man Carey Price between the pipes for Les Habitants tonight.
For more about game three between the Cats and Habs, visit our amis over at Eyes On The Prize. Make sure to join in on LBC's scintillating live GameThread 'round about 7 PM for all the usual high jinks.
Players to Watch:
- Brad Boyes - The veteran forward finished Florida's holiday homestand off in fine fashion with two goals and three assists over the last three games. Boyes has dished out six helpers in his last five games against Montreal.
- P.K. Subban - Subban is heating up at just the right time with selections to the Canada's Olympic team pending. The slick defender has six points in his last three games and leads the Habs in scoring with 33 points. The Cats have done a good job on Subban this season, limiting him to a single assist in two games.
- Aleksander Barkov - The 18-year-old rookie enters tonight's tilt on a five-game scoring streak. Barkov has picked up eleven points in his last eleven games and is now the Cats leading scorer. The youngster is proving himself worthy of being the second selection in the 2013 Entry Draft.
- Tomas Plekanec - Plekanec cooled down as December wore on, picking up just two points in the last eleven games of the month. The veteran forward, who is second on the team with 13 goals, collected two assists in Saturday's 4-3 overtime loss to Ottawa and could be ready for a breakout.