Final OT

Series (Game 2 of 4)

Montreal leads 3-1

Game 1: Saturday, October 30th
Game 2: Friday, December 31st
Game 3: Wednesday, February 2nd
Game 4: Thursday, March 3rd

Canadiens 3

(21-16-2, 44 pts)

Panthers 2

(16-17-2, 34 pts)

Coverage: RDS

5:00 PM ET, December 31, 2010

BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida

1 2 3 OT T
MTL 0 2 0 13
FLA 0 2 0 02

J. Wisniewski (Canadiens - D): Goals: 2, Assists: 1

T. Vokoun (Panthers - G): Saves: 45, Save Pct.: .938

S. Gomez (Canadiens - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

Canadiens-Panthers Preview


The Montreal Canadiens didn't head into a seven-game road swing with much momentum. They'll return home with even less.

Montreal wraps up what's been an extremely disappointing trip Friday against the Florida Panthers looking to avoid a sixth loss in seven games.

The Canadiens (20-16-2) had dropped three of four as they began their longest road trip of the season Dec. 19 in Colorado, and they haven't done anything to reverse their struggles. Montreal lost its first two games before a 3-2 win over Carolina on Dec. 23, then emerged from the Christmas break with three consecutive losses, the latest 4-1 against Tampa Bay on Thursday.

"Right now, the way things are going, obviously we're a fragile team," captain Brian Gionta said. "We've got to figure out how to stop it."

Carey Price has gone from someone who looked like a potential Vezina Trophy candidate -- 17-7-2 with a 1.92 goals-against average in his first 26 starts -- to resembling the same goaltender who struggled to reach his potential in his first three seasons. Price fell to 2-7-0 with a 3.52 GAA in his last nine starts Thursday, when he was pulled for the first time this season.

Backup Alex Auld, who spent 2006-07 with Florida and is 2-0-3 with a tie and a 2.18 GAA against the Panthers, may get his fourth start of the season Friday.

If so, he'll hope for more help from the Canadiens' offense. Montreal has been held to two goals or fewer seven times in its past 10 games, falling to 3-15-0 when it fails to score more than twice.

When scoring three goals or more, the Canadiens are 17-1-2.

Florida (16-17-1), meanwhile, was 3-1-0 in its four games prior to Boston's visit Monday, and had to feel pretty good about its chances of getting two more points when the game went to overtime.

The Panthers had been 3-0-0 beyond regulation -- the only team not to lose in OT or a shootout -- but had to settle for one point against the Bruins. Mike Santorelli, Stephen Weiss and Evgeny Dadonov were all stopped by Boston's Tim Thomas in the shootout in a 3-2 loss.

The defeat spoiled a strong effort from backup goaltender Scott Clemmensen, who made 40 saves.

"Our goalie was just as good as their guy, but I think the story of the game was missed opportunities," Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said.

"We had opportunities at different points in the game to extend the one-goal lead to two, some point-blank chances."

Starter Tomas Vokoun is expected back between the pipes Friday, and he's put up excellent numbers versus Montreal recently even without a ton to show for it. Vokoun is 3-4-1 in his last nine games against the Canadiens, but he has a 1.83 GAA.

Vokoun got some help from his teammates Oct. 30 at the Bell Centre, however. He made 40 stops in a 3-1 victory.

Panthers winger David Booth, who scored on a penalty shot in that game, suffered a bruised hip in Monday's loss. Both Booth and fellow forward Michael Frolik, who missed practice Thursday, are expected to play Friday.

Montreal has won four of its last six visits to the BankAtlantic Center.