LBC Game Preview & Open Forum: Panthers Visit Montreal
Coming off a sub-par effort last night in Ottawa, the Panthers finish up their Canadian back-to-back with a tilt in Montreal at 7:30.
Florida finishes up their quick two-game trip into Canada tonight. After getting embarrassed last night against the Ottawa Senators, the Cats will tonight hope for better results as they face the Montreal Canadiens. Afterward, the Panthers will be looking for revenge against Ottawa in Sunrise on Thursday night. The Habs will head to Washington D.C. for their road opener on Thursday against the Capitals.
The last time these two met was March 27th last season in Montreal. The Panthers completed the season sweep by taking the Canadiens to a shootout. Partial recap courtesy of NHL.COM:
Wojtek Wolski scored in regulation and was the lone scorer in the shootout for the Panthers before Clemmensen stopped Tomas Plekanec and forced Louis Leblanc to shoot wide to ice the win for the Panthers (36-24-15), who snapped a four-game winless slide to grab a stranglehold on the division with a game in hand on the Capitals.
But it wasn't easy as -- Panthers entered the third period down 2-1 and were staring at the possibility of leaving Montreal with nothing.
"Playing teams that are beneath us in the standings, especially those that are out of the playoffs, we feel we should get two points no matter what," said Clemmensen, who made 27 saves to improve to a perfect 6-0-0 in seven career appearances against Montreal. "So even though we played a solid game we weren't going to be satisfied without the two points."
Erik Cole set a career high with his 31st goal and Leblanc also scored for the Canadiens (29-34-14), who are 1-2-3 in their last six games.
After the game, Panthers coach Kevin Dineen talked a little about the playoff race:
"Let's not kid ourselves; we're all doing that right now on both sides of the ledger," Dineen said of the scoreboard-watching going on. "Everyone's looking around to see what's happening around the League. That's a nice win for us and I give Buffalo credit; that's a team that was counted out three weeks ago."
After starting the season off with an impressive home victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, the Panthers were shut out last night by Craig Anderson and the Ottawa Senators. Here's NHL.COM with the recap:
It was the Senators who jumped out to the early lead in the first period on the power play, after Keaton Ellerby was called for tripping at 4:41. Patrick Wiercioch fed a saucer pass from the high slot to Turris, who one-timed the shot from the half boards, beating Theodore at 10:42. Daniel Alfredsson also picked up an assist, for his first point of the season.
Wiercioch and Turris are close friends going back to their minor hockey days, and Turris admitted that having the assist come from his friend was especially nice.
"It’s pretty special," Turris said. "In minor hockey and in juniors with the Burnaby Express (of the BCHL) – the power plays with [Wiercioch] on the point, kind of getting the flow back from the old days. We laughed about it when we got back into the [locker room]."
Turris struck again in the second period at 12:07 when he skated the puck into the Florida zone, passed it off to Latendresse on the left boards and drove to the net. Latendresse then centered the puck for Turris, who tipped it past Theodore.
Former Senators forward Alexei Kovalev was booed every time he touched the puck. Kovalev, who signed with the Panthers last week, has demonstrated chemistry with rookie Jonathan Huberdeau – the two combined for six points against the Hurricanes. However, Kovalev was largely silent Monday night, registering only a single shot on goal.
Florida’s best chance in the game came late in the second, when Anderson was forced to make a nifty pad save on Tomas Kopecky after Kovalev sent him in all alone with 25 seconds left in the second.
O’Brien made the score 3-0 off a turnover from Dmitry Kulikov late in the third period, while Silfverberg flipped a wrist shot past Theodore with 64 seconds left in the game.
Brian Campbell tried to reassure Florida fans afterward:
"Hopefully we can turn this [loss] around and show our fans that we’re ready to work hard and put a good product on the ice," Campbell said. "I thought early in the game, we weren’t going north with the puck, and a lot the times you can’t be too successful if you’re too busy being cute. We’re not that type of team. We need to keep moving forward."
Montreal has been out of action since opening night, when they dropped a 2-1 decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Here's NHL.COM's recap:
The Canadiens, as they often do, marked the beginning of the new season by honoring its prior ones.
The team's theme for the season is "Raise the Torch," so former Canadiens captains Yvan Cournoyer, Henri Richard, Vincent Damphousse, Serge Savard and Jean Beliveau -- who received an ovation that nearly blew the roof off Bell Centre -- conducted a torch relay that ended with current captain Brian Gionta on the ice.
The torch was passed from player to player as they were introduced to the sellout crowd, and 18-year-old rookie Alex Galchenyuk received one of the loudest ovations prior to his NHL debut.
But one of the most enthusiastic crowd responses was reserved for coach Michel Therrien, coaching his 500th game, his first since being hired for his hometown team.
The warmth from the crowd, however, did not last very long -- the Canadiens took a penalty 46 seconds after the opening faceoff when Ryan White was called for goaltender interference, triggering a Montreal parade to the penalty box.
Erik Cole took Montreal's second penalty of the game 16 seconds after White's ended, and the Maple Leafs took advantage when Kadri jumped on a blocked centering pass from Kessel and caught goaltender Carey Price moving the wrong way at 4:51 of the first. It was Toronto's first shot on goal this season.
Game Time: 7:30 P.M. EST
All time Series: The Panthers have gone 34-24-13 throughout their history against the Montreal Canadiens, their third best record against any team.
Season Series: 0-0-0, first of three contests, and the only one in Canada.
Standings: Florida Panthers: 1-1-0, .500, 2 points, tied for first in Southeast Division, tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference, tied for 10th in the NHL. Last five: N/A, on pace for: 48 points, Playoff chances: 52%
Montreal Canadiens: 0-1-0, .000, 0 points, last in Northeast Division, tied for 11th in Eastern Conference, tied for 22nd in the NHL. Last five: N/A, on pace for: zero points, Playoff chances: 50%
LBC's Game Thread goes live at 7 p.m.
If Shawn Matthias lights the lamp tonight, he will pass Mike Van Ryn into 46th all-time, with 26.
With a goal, Tomas Fleischmann will tie Bryan McCabe in 42nd all-time, with 28.
Mike Santorelli will tie Chris Gratton in 37th all-time with his next goal, number 30.
Ed Jovanovski's next goal will be his 33rd, moving him into a tie for 31st with Valeri Bure.
Brian Campbell's next assist will give him 50, tying him with Niklas Hagman in 39th all-time.
Today in Panthers History:
2000 - The 28-12-4-3 Panthers defeated the Boston Bruins 4-3 with two goals and an assist by Pavel Bure, two helpers by Viktor Kozlov, and a goal and an assist by Ray Whitney. Mike Vernon stopped 36-of-39 shots in the overtime victory.
Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Scottie Upshall
Alexei Kovalev - Peter Mueller - Jonathan Huberdeau
Mike Santorelli - Shawn Matthias - Tomas Kopecky
Jack Skille - Jerred Smithson - George Parros
Brian Campbell - Mike Weaver
Keaton Ellerby - Ed Jovanovski
Scott Clemmensen - Jose Theodore
Erik Cole - David Desharnais - Max Pacioretty
Brian Gionta - Tomas Plekanec - Rene Bourque
Ryan White - Alex Galchenyuk - Travis Moen
Colby Armstrong - Lars Eller - Brandon Prust
Andrei Markov - Josh Gorges
Alexei Emelin - Tomas Kaberle
Francis Bouillon - Raphael Diaz
Carey Price - Peter Budaj
Panthers Injury Report: (courtesy of Harvey Fialkov's Panthers Blog) Kris Versteeg is doubtful for the trip. D Erik Gudbranson (shoulder) and C Marcel Goc (ankle) are still at least a week away. No timetable for Sean Bergenheim. Panthers Team Leaders:
Brian Campbell - 2, Scottie Upshall, Alexei Kovalev, Jonathan Huberdeau - 1
Jonathan Huberdeau, Alexei Kovalev - 2, Filip Kuba, Peter Mueller, Tomas Fleischmann, Stephen Weiss - 1
Jonathan Huberdeau, Alexei Kovalev - 3, Brian Campbell - 2
Jonathan Huberdeau, Alexei Kovalev, Peter Mueller - plus-2 PIM Eight players tied at two.
Around the NHL
The action starts tonight at 7PM with two Southeast Division tilts as the Jets visit Washington and the Canes host the Bolts. Aside from the Panthers at 7:30, the Flyers are in New Jersey and the Stars pay Detroit a visit. 8PM will see the Predators play the Wild and at 8:30 the Blackhawks face the Blues.
Prognostication: We can't all be perfect, and my predictions last night were way off (in my defense, yours were all off too). But in the spirit of try and try again - Scottie Upshall, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Shawn Matthias score goals in a 3-1 win. Scott Clemmensen runs his lifetime record against the Habs to a perfect 7-0-0. Do you want to give it another try? Leave your picks below.