Panthers Take On The Canadiens
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MIAMI (AP) — After a pair of disappointing efforts, the Montreal Canadiens resumed their winning ways their last time out.
The Florida Panthers have been playing well of late, too.
The Canadiens try to continue their recent success against the visiting Panthers as these Atlantic Division foes meet for the first time Sunday.
Montreal (20-11-3) had limited opponents to 19 goals during a 9-0-1 stretch before suffering back-to-back losses, 6-0 to Los Angeles on Tuesday and 2-1 at Philadelphia on Thursday. The Canadiens, though, bounced back two days later with a 1-0 overtime road win over the New York Islanders.
“We were absolutely more intense,” coach Michel Therrien said. “We wanted to be physical. We wanted to play a hard-nosed game. This is something we didn’t do the last two games, and guys responded well.”
Max Pacioretty scored his team-best 12th goal 1:51 into OT and Carey Price made 21 saves to record his second shutout. Price lowered his goals-against average to 2.00, the NHL’s sixth-lowest mark.
“That was a really good hard-fought win,” Price said. “We played a really solid game from start to finish. We knew it would be low scoring game, and we’re playing really well, patiently waiting for our chance. The effort was there all night.”
The Canadiens now try to keep things going against the Panthers, whom they outscored 10-3 in taking all three matchups last season. Montreal is 14-6-1 in the series dating to December 2007, including 6-2-1 at home.
Sitting in seventh place in the division, the Panthers (11-17-5) are enjoying their best stretch of the season. Florida has won four of five after beating Washington 3-2 on Friday behind Tomas Kopecky’s goal in the 10th round of a shootout.
“Obviously it feels good, especially to win the game and get that extra point,” Kopecky said. “We need every point right now and it was just something for the guys. The guys got a good laugh out of it and that’s what it’s all about. Have fun and work hard.”
Scott Clemmensen had gone winless while posting a 3.89 GAA in his first five games before making 23 saves against the Capitals.
“December whatever it is, my first win of the season,” Clemmensen told the team’s official website. “It’s been a long road here and (I) just kind of stick with it. Hey, we got the win regardless and the boys were kind enough to bestow the hat upon me tonight.”
Clemmensen’s play could prove crucial going forward after the Panthers placed Tim Thomas (groin) on injured reserve Saturday. Clemmensen had gone 6-0-0 with a 1.68 GAA in seven games against the Canadiens before allowing all four goals in a 4-1 road loss Jan. 22.
Price, who made 27 saves in that game, went on to stop all 26 shots he faced in a 1-0 overtime win at Florida on Feb. 14. He’s gone 5-4-1 in 10 career matchups against the Panthers while compiling a 1.88 GAA, his lowest mark against any team he’s faced more than five times.
Montreal has killed off 25 of its opponents’ last 26 power-play chances. The Panthers are 0 for their last 14 on the man advantage.
Canadiens enforcer George Parros, acquired from Florida this offseason, is uncertain to face his former team. Parros didn’t return after taking a punch from Islanders forward Eric Boulton in a first-period fight Saturday.
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