Series (Game 3 of 4)

Montreal leads 3-1

Game 1: Thursday, December 31st
Game 2: Thursday, January 7th
Game 3: Tuesday, January 26th
Game 4: Thursday, March 25th

Canadiens 1

(25-24-5, 55 pts)

Panthers 2

(23-21-9, 55 pts)

Coverage: RDS

7:30 PM ET, January 26, 2010

BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida

1 2 3 T
MTL 0 1 01
FLA 0 0 22

S. Matthias (Panthers - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

T. Vokoun (Panthers - G): Saves: 16, Save Pct.: .941

J. Halak (Canadiens - G): Saves: 27, Save Pct.: .931

Canadiens-Panthers Preview


The Florida Panthers have never posted three straight shutouts at home. The way Tomas Vokoun is playing, that could be about to change.

With the hot goaltender expected to make his 13th consecutive start, the Panthers will try to win their season-high fourth straight at home Tuesday night as they go for their first victory over the Montreal Canadiens in nearly a year.

Since dropping its final two home games of the 2009 calendar year, Florida (22-21-9) is 4-0-1 in its last five at BankAtlantic Center, including consecutive shutouts by Vokoun. After making made 27 saves in a 1-0 victory over Atlanta on Jan. 18, he stopped 39 shots in Saturday's 2-0 win over Toronto.

"It's always nice when you get on a roll," said Vokoun, who has a 1.57 goals-against average while starting the Panthers' last five home games.

Vokoun's excellence has come at an opportune time for Florida, which will be without leading scorer Nathan Horton for four to six weeks after he fractured his tibia in Thursday's 2-1 shootout loss at the New York Islanders.

The Panthers are also eagerly awaiting the return of David Booth, who has been practicing but has no idea when he'll be ready to play again after suffering a concussion in late October. Booth led Florida with a career-high 31 goals last season.

"Obviously, we're missing some key goal scorers," said Vokoun, 1-4-1 with a 2.79 GAA in his last six starts against Montreal. "...we know we're going to have to win low-scoring games."

A regulation victory Tuesday would not only be the first win of the season for Florida in three meetings versus Montreal this season, but would also pull the Panthers even with the Canadiens (25-23-5) in the crowded Eastern Conference playoff race, in which three points separate the sixth and 13th-place clubs.

"You look at the standings, and its a four-point game," Florida coach Peter DeBoer said following Monday's practice. "It a chance to either jump them or for them to make a pretty big swing in the separation in the standings. It's a critical two points."

Montreal, which has won seven of eight in this series including a 5-4 win at Florida on Dec. 31 and a 2-0 home victory Jan. 7, looks to continue a scoring surge as it opens a three-game trip.

Michael Cammalleri, who scored the final goal in Friday's 3-1 victory at New Jersey, found the back of the net twice and added two assists in Saturday's 6-0 win over the New York Rangers. It was the Canadiens' most lopsided victory since an 8-2 rout of Boston on Jan. 22, 2008.

Cammalleri leads Montreal with 26 goals, including six in his last six games.

Benoit Pouliot, who has 10 goals in his last 13 contests, will try to score in his fourth straight game. He's had a goal in each matchup with the Panthers this season, including the game-winner on New Year's Eve.

Canadiens center Scott Gomez, who has two goals and six assists in his last eight games overall, notched two assists in each previous game of the seasons series.

After making 32 saves Saturday to record his career-high third shutout, Jaroslav Halak is expected to get the start again for Montreal. Halak, who is 8-2-1 with a 1.99 GAA in his last 11 starts, has won all four of his career starts versus the Panthers.

Florida has not defeated the Canadiens since a 5-1 home victory last Jan. 29.