SUNRISE (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – The Florida Panthers have been on quite the run over the past month.
Florida sat 16 points behind the first-place Montreal Canadiens in the Atlantic Division in late November.
Just over one month later, the Panthers aim for their seventh straight victory and the top spot in the division when the road-weary Canadiens pay them a visit on Tuesday.
Florida has allowed nine goals during its six-game winning streak and 20-year-old center Aleksander Barkov told reporters, “We have high confidence. Last (season), we weren’t even close to this spot. We just need to keep playing this way, winning games.”
Barkov scored twice in a 3-2 victory over Columbus on Sunday and will try to help the Panthers keep Montreal from winning two straight games for the first time this month.
The Canadiens, who are 1-4-0 on their eight-game road trip, dropped six straight before Monday’s 4-3 shootout victory at Tampa Bay.
Ben Scrivens, who was acquired from Edmonton for right wing Zack Kassian on Monday, is expected to make his debut in net for Montreal after Mike Condon made 36 saves in the slump-ending triumph.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Sportsnet, RDS (Montreal), FSN Florida
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (21-14-3): Tomas Plekanec ended his 21-game goal-scoring drought Monday and shares the team lead with captain Max Pacioretty at 28 points after Montreal scored at least three goals for only the second time since Nov. 25.
Alex Galchenyuk netted one of the other tallies to extend his point streak to four games.
Defenseman Mark Barberio was recalled and made his first appearance in a Canadiens uniform Monday, replacing a healthy Alexei Emelin in the lineup.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (20-12-4): The line of Barkov (four points in as many games), Jaromir Jagr (team-high 25 points) and Jonathan Huberdeau (five points in four contests) continues to lead the way for Florida.
The Panthers have leaned on Roberto Luongo, who has yielded eight goals during his personal five-game winning streak, but their defense also is as healthy as it has been in a while.
Aaron Ekblad leads the team’s blue-liners with nine goals – five in his last 10 games – 17 points and a plus-11 rating.
- The Canadiens have gained at least one point in their last seven meetings (6-0-1) with the Panthers.
- Florida C Nick Bjugstad, who has missed the last 13 games with an upper-body injury, practiced Monday and could return as soon as this weekend.
- Montreal RW Sven Andrighetto returned the lineup Monday after being scratched in four straight games and notched an assist.
The Panthers face the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, December 29th at 7:30 p.m. You can hear every game on Sports Radio 560 WQAM, the radio home of the Florida Panthers.
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