|4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST4:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ETNaN:� BRT, January 19, 2023
Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec Attendance: 21,105
Habs look for third straight win vs. road weary Panthers
Florida Panthers at Montreal Canadiens
- The Canadiens won, 10-2, the last time the Panthers played in Montreal (April 29, 2022). That's one of the three games since 1990-91 in which the Canadiens scored as many as 10 goals, and one of only two games in Panthers history in which they allowed 10-plus goals. The Panthers won, 7-2, when they played the Canadiens in Florida this season (Dec. 29).
- Florida squandered a 4-2 lead in its 5-4 overtime loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Tuesday. The only other game this season that the Panthers failed to win after leading by two or more goals is their 5-4 overtime loss to the Blues on November 25. Florida led, 4-1, with less than 12 minutes remaining in the third period in that game.
- Aleksander Barkov has scored 22 goals in the 28 games he's played against the Canadiens, including three the last time he faced them (Dec. 29). The only other player with as many or more goals versus Montreal since 2013-14 (Barkov's first season) is Auston Matthews (22). Barkov has not scored more than 14 goals against any other NHL team.
- Carter Verhaeghe has scored 21 goals this season and all of them have come in the 26 games in which he had three or more shots on goal. Verhaeghe has had two or fewer shots on goal in 19 games this season.
- The Canadiens beat the Rangers in New York on Sunday (2-1) and the Jets in Montreal on Tuesday (4-1). It's only the second time they've won consecutive games in regulation time this season. They also did that on October 27 (at Buffalo) and October 29 (at St. Louis).
- Evgeni Dadonov scored two goals against Winnipeg on Tuesday, after entering that game with two goals in 35 games played this season. It was Dadonov's first two-goal game for the Canadiens and the 16th multiple-goal game of his NHL career. His last six multi-goal games have all been against Canadian-based teams.
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The Montreal Canadiens would tie their humble season-high winning streak if they can defeat the visiting Florida Panthers on Thursday night.
Montreal's run of two consecutive wins has been fueled by several ex-Panthers, including goalie Sam Montembeault, defenseman Mike Matheson, and forwards Evgenii Dadonov and Mike Hoffman.
In a 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night, the Canadiens got two goals from Dadonov, one goal from Hoffman, one assist from Matheson and 25 saves by Montembeault.
Prior to the win over Winnipeg, the Canadiens defeated the host New York Rangers 2-1 on Sunday. Both the Jets and Rangers are currently in playoff position.
"We just beat two of the best teams in the league," said Montembeault, who has made five straight starts, allowing 2.2 goals per game during that span. "It just shows that when we play (hard) for 60 minutes, we can compete with anybody."
For perspective, the Canadiens had the worst record in the NHL last season. This season, the Canadiens occupy next-to-last place in the Eastern Conference with 41 points.
What's different about Thursday's game is the struggles of the Panthers, who had the best record in the NHL in 2021-22. The Panthers are not currently in playoff position. In fact, they lead Montreal by just six points, and the Canadiens have played one less game.
On Tuesday, Florida lost 5-4 in overtime at Toronto, and Panthers coach Paul Maurice didn't hold back his disgust with the officiating.
"Energy, excitement and profanity would be the words," Maurice said when asked to describe the game from his team's perspective.
"I'm proud of our guys. (The league) flew us out to the west coast, flew us back home, flew us up here for a back-to-back, and then they threw those two (officials) at us. I don't know what the hell those guys were doing, but it wasn't Florida Panther-friendly."
Toronto went 2-for-7 on its power play. In contrast, Florida scored one goal on just three chances with the man advantage.
Maurice, though, said he still "feels good" about the Panthers, who are 5-2-1 in their past eight games. Thursday will cap a stretch of seven road contests in an eight-game span.
"This is by far our most difficult stretch of the season," Maurice said. "Our guys are a little tired, but our compete-level is much higher than in December. We're working our butts off. We're working hard enough to win."
Winger Matthew Tkachuk leads the Panthers in goals (22) and assists (34). However, he had a seven-game points streak snapped against Toronto. He had five goals and eight assists during that span. Carter Verhaeghe is second in goals (21), and Brandon Montour is second in assists (29).
Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky is 12-13-2.
Meanwhile, Montreal is led in points by Nick Suzuki (37) and Cole Caufield (36). Suzuki and Kirby Dach top the Canadiens in assists with 21 each, and Caufield's 26 goals are best on the squad.
Montembeault, drafted in the third round by the Panthers in 2015, is 9-7-2.
However, the Canadiens placed three forwards on injured reserve Tuesday: Juraj Slafkovsky, Joel Armia and Jake Evans. In addition, Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin missed Tuesday's game due to injury.
Slafkovsky, the NHL's No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft, has four goals and six assists in 39 games.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 18, 2023