Montreal looks for its third win in a row before embarking on a season-high six game road trip when it hosts the Panthers on Tuesday.
The Canadiens (16-11-5) are the NHL’s oldest franchise - having been in existence since 1909 - while the Panthers are one of the league’s newest. They started play in the 1993-94 season - the year after Montreal won its last Stanley Cup - yet they’re 26-16-4 with six ties against the Canadiens, making them the only team to boast a winning record against the league’s most successful organization.
They’ve been particularly strong against Montreal lately. Florida has won three in a row in the series - two in Canada - and is 5-1-1 in its last seven games against the Canadiens, allowing just five goals during that stretch. The Panthers won the teams’ first meeting this season 2-1 in a shootout on Oct. 16.
Considering Montreal is 10-5-1 away from home this season, it’s likely looking forward to its upcoming road trip. The Canadiens had lost six straight at the Bell Centre and had been booed lustily at their own arena prior to beating Toronto 4-1 on Saturday.
“The crowd was electric,” said goaltender Carey Price, who made 28 saves in the win. “They were behind us the whole way.”
Saku Koivu scored twice - his first multi-goal game since Oct. 3 - to support Price.
“I thought we really played well for 60 minutes - tight, defensive hockey, which is going to make us successful,” Koivu said..
Florida (15-16-2) has taken two of three on its current four-game road trip, winning 3-1 at Chicago on Sunday on the strength of star goaltender Tomas Vokoun.
Vokoun, who has been in net for all 15 of the Panthers’ wins, improved his record to 15-12-1. He faced 22 shots in the first and stopped all but one of those, before shutting Chicago out in the second and third periods and finishing with 44 saves.
“We got some scoring from different guys … and Tomas was there to cover up for our mistakes,” Panthers coach Jacques Martin said. “He made some big saves and we were able to capitalize when we had the opportunities.”
Martin had originally thought of giving backup Craig Anderson his first start since Nov. 29, considering Vokoun had faced 46 shots one night earlier in a 5-2 loss at Detroit. But he stuck with Vokoun, whose .923 save percentage is seventh in the NHL, and the move paid off despite the Panthers allowing another shots.
“You can’t put yourself in this situation all the time,” Vokoun said. “Sooner or later these things will catch up with you.”
Florida is just 1-for-15 on the power play during its road trip.