TV: FOX Sports Florida
TIME: 7:30 p.m.
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The Florida Panthers will try and stay in touch in the race for an Eastern Conference playoff spot when they play the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night at Bell Centre in Montreal.
The Panthers (35-27-7) were five points behind the New Jersey Devils, who hold the second wild-card position entering play Sunday night.
Florida’s playoff drive stalled Saturday with a 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.
Forward Vincent Trochek said the Panthers can’t afford to take any teams lightly at this time of the season. The Oilers are 13th in the Western Conference and the Canadiens (26-34-12) are 13th in the Eastern Conference.
“When we play the way we can, we win a lot of games,” Trocheck told the league’s website. “I don’t think we’re pleased with (Saturday), the way we played. I think we should beat that team. If we play our game, we would. It’s just a matter of coming to every game like it’s a playoff game. Can’t let off the pedal at all.”
The Panthers will be looking to get their power play going against the Canadiens.
Florida was 0 of 6 on the power play Saturday. Give the Oilers credit, though, because they own the best penalty killing in the league on the road.
“We had many chances to go up 3-1 and we didn’t,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said to NHL.com. “When you let teams stick around like that, that’s what happens. Could be goofy bounces or whatever, and they tie it up. It’s a different game after that.”
Defenseman Alex Petrovic missed his second game with a lower-body injury against the Oilers. He is day to day.
“A lot of important hockey ahead of us here,” Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo told NHL.com. “Disappointed with (Saturday), but we’ve got some big games coming up on the road this week. So we’ve got to forget about it and just get back to what we do best.”
The Canadiens, meanwhile, are coming off a 4-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, their sixth loss in their past seven games (1-4-2). It was the 11th time the Canadiens have been shut out this season, a franchise record.
The Maple Leafs had 89 shot attempts against the Canadiens, getting 49 on goal. Canadiens rookie goaltender Charlie Lindgren made 45 saves.
Montreal defenseman Jeff Petry summed up what went wrong for the Canadiens in the game, but he might as well have been speaking about the last few months: “We played a decent road first period, and then I don’t know if we got lazy or what it was, but it was an unacceptable second period. We were slow to get to spots, slow to defend, bad gaps, the list goes on,” he said, according to NHL.com.
Canadiens coach Claude Julien is looking for his team to bounce back from an awful second period Saturday.
“The second period was unacceptable in my book. The lack of focus, the lack of effort and everything else,” he told the team’s website. “At one point, you’ve got to understand that a game is 60 minutes long, not 20 or 40. We played 20 and we just kind of disappointed everybody in the second period.
“It’s disappointing because I thought we’ve been making some good strides, but we took a real step backwards with that second period. We can’t accept that kind of effort.”
The Canadiens’ injury list remains a long one: goaltender Carey Price (concussion, injured reserve); defensemen Shea Weber (foot, out for the season), Victor Mete (finger, day to day); David Schlemko (lower body, day to day); Rinat Valiev (lower body, day to day) and forwards Ales Hemsky (upper body, injured reserve); Max Pacioretty (knee, day to day); Phillip Danault (headaches, day to day); and Andrew Shaw (head, day to day).
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