MONTREAL – The Canadiens resume hostilities with the Florida Panthers Thursday night at the Bell Center.
TICKETS: Panthers @ Canadiens
Although Montreal have racked up at least one point in each of their last three games, the club has only one win to its credit since losing 3-2 to the Boston Bruins in overtime on Monday.
David Savard scored on his return to action after a 20-match absence due to a right ankle injury. Joel Army scored another goal in a loss, and Jake Allen made 43 saves.
Video: Allen effective in overtime
Thursday’s game against the Eastern Conference-seed Panthers will be a tough test for the Canadiens, who have slowed down a bit with just two wins in their last seven games. They will probably have to fight without a captain’s mate. Brendan Gallagher, who returned to the team on Wednesday but was not ready to return to training. Gallagher was thwarted by a lower body injury before contracting a virus unrelated to COVID-19.
The Canadians held an optional training session on Thursday morning. After training, acting head coach Martin Saint-Louis told reporters that Jonathan Drouin will not play against Florida. The attacker returned home because he was in contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19. St. Louis confirmed that Allen would get a start in goal and the Club also announced that Tyler Pitlik debuted in a Bleu-blanc-rouge uniform.
On the other side of the ice, the Panthers continue their excellent season. They have won all but two of their games in their last nine matches, although both defeats have come in their last four meetings. Florida is currently tied for first place in the Eastern Conference with the Carolina Hurricanes, although the Panthers have a game in hand.
In their last game, the Panthers beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-0 at the Honda Center on Friday. It was the first shutout in the career of goaltender Spencer Knight, who saved 17 shots in his team’s victory. Jonathan Huberdeau kept up in the Art Ross Trophy race with 85 and 86 points for the season and 20 and 21 goals for the 2021–22 season. Veteran Joe Thornton sealed the win with his fifth goal of the year.
Forward Alexander Barkov is behind Huberteau on the Panthers’ scoring list with 62 points. His 26 goals make him the top scorer of his team. The Finnish center has been in great form lately, having only scored once in the last seven meetings. Sam Reinhart rounds out the Panthers’ top three with 60 points (23G, 37A) in 59 games.
This could be the first time the Canadian faces his former teammate Ben Chiarot. The Canadiens traded the quarterback to Florida last week, but Chiaro has been training at the Bell Sports Complex since he was traded. Florida also acquired forwards Claude Giroud and Yegor Korshkov, as well as defenseman Robert Hugg, before the trade deadline.
This will be the second of four meetings between the two teams. The first meeting took place at Sunrise on New Year’s Day, with the Panthers winning 5-2. The season streak resumes on Tuesday in Florida, ending at the Bell Center on April 29.
The game is scheduled for 19:00 at the Bell Centre.
You can follow all the action on TSN2 and RDS, or on 98.5 fm or TSN 360.
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