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SUNRISE (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – It hasn’t been easy for the Florida Panthers lately and playing the first place Montreal Canadiens only continues that trend.
The Canadiens remain in search of their first victory on a seven-game road trip that continues Thursday against the division-rival Panthers.
Montreal, which sits atop the Atlantic despite a three-game overall winless streak, fell to 0-1-1 on its trek Wednesday as it squandered a two-goal lead in the third period and suffered a 4-3 overtime loss at Tampa Bay.
Captain Max Pacioretty leads the Canadiens with 28 points and has landed on the scoresheet in four of his last five contests after notching an assist versus the Lightning.
Florida is wrapping up a five-game homestand during which it has posted a 1-1-2 record after falling to Toronto 3-2 in a shootout Wednesday.
The Panthers did well to earn the one point, however, as Jonathan Marchessault and Vincent Trocheck each recorded a goal and an assist in the third period to help erase a 2-0 deficit.
The 26-year-old Marchessault, who ended a six-game goal-scoring drought, leads Florida with 11 tallies in 29 games this after recording eight in his first 49 NHL contests.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Sportsnet East, RDS (Montreal), FSN Florida
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (21-9-5): Shea Weber has been a force on the power play in his first season with Montreal, registering a team-leading 11 points while scoring eight of his nine overall goals with the man advantage.
The 31-year-old defenseman, who ended a 14-game drought Wednesday, is six away from matching his career high in power-play tallies set last season with Nashville.
Weber (20) and Paul Byron (two assists versus the Lightning for 21) raised Montreal’s total of players with 20 or more points to six, joining Pacioretty, Alexander Radulove (24), Alex Galchenyuk (23) and blue-liner Andrei Markov (21).
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (15-14-7): Roberto Luongo may have to wait until Saturday at Dallas for another chance to take sole possession of fifth place on the all-time victory list as he was thwarted by the Maple Leafs despite making 38 saves.
The 37-year-old currently is tied with Terry Sawchuk at 447 wins.
Florida will face Montreal without leading scorer Aleksander Barkov (27 points), who exited Wednesday’s game with a lower body injury and had his five-game point streak snapped in the process.
- Byron, who is second on the Canadiens with 11 goals, needs one tally and one point to set new career highs in those categories.
- Florida has lost 10 of its 14 games (4-4-6) since Tom Rowe replaced the fired Gerard Gallant behind the bench Nov. 28.
- Radulov ended his six-game point drought Wednesday with his second goal in 10 contests.
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