After an up-tempo game day skate the Canadiens appear lose and ready to face the Florida Panthers tonight in Sunrise Florida. The Habs were a boisterous bunch on the ice today with lots of smiles and laughs along the way. In the final minutes of the skate Alex Kovalev and Saku Koivu started a game of keep away, they were joined by Sergei Samsonov and Alexander Perezhogin. When all was said and done Kovalev gave Perezhogin a few pointers on how to protect the puck.
The Panthers have a history of being trouble for the Canadiens especially down south as their 13-9-3 record clearly shows. Earlier this year the Panthers pounded the Canadiens 5-1, Panthers Captain Oli Jokinen potted three goals and his country man Saku Koivu was on the ice for all three of them. Twelve days later both Alex Auld and Cristobal Huet recorded shutouts as the Canadiens recorded a 1-0 shootout win.
Saku Koivu who is currently tied with Alexander Ovechkin and Vincent Lecavalier for the goal scoring lead in the month of December has two chances left to add another two goal game this month. Should he accomplish it he would tie a Canadiens all time multiple goal record last set by Steve Shutt.
Game Notes: Cristobal Huet be in goal for the Canadiens this evening opposing him on the other end will be Ed Belfour. Belfour has had great success against the Canadiens, he is 15-10 all time and has won his previous 5 starts against the Canadiens. Janne Niinimaa remains a healthy scratch and Aaron Downy will be back in the press box despite scoring the game winning goal in Washington on Wednesday. Florida forwards Todd Bertuzzi and Stephen Weiss are still listed on the IR, but Weiss did practice with the team and is just awaiting medical clearance to play. Steve Begin of the Canadiens remains out with a rib injury.
1. Panthers defenseman is just one point shy of 100 for his career.
2. The Canadiens have not scored more than a single goal in a game against Florida in 4 games dating back to November 15th of last year.
3. Saku Koivu is just 1 power play goal away from breaking his previous career high of 8 he set in his rookie season and matched last game against Washington.
4. Last game the Canadiens faced the NHL’s shot leader in Alexander Ovechkin tonight they will try to shut down the guy right below him Jokinen trails Ovechkin but just 8 shots.