The Florida Panthers topped the Montreal Canadiens earlier this
month during their longest win streak of the season. They’ve cooled
off considerably since then but will likely have their top
goaltender back on the ice for their next game.
After missing much of December with a groin injury, Tim Thomas
will try to pick up where he left off in Sunday’s visit from the
Florida (14-20-5) held on for a 2-1 win in Montreal on Dec. 15,
with Scott Clemmensen needing to stop only 17 shots. The Panthers,
however, have struggled to contain opponents during their current
three-game losing streak, allowing a combined 15 goals.
It was speculated Thomas might return to the lineup Saturday
against Detroit, but it was Clemmensen who got the start and gave
up two goals early in the third period in a 4-3 defeat. Sean
Bergenheim helped Florida rally from an early 2-0 deficit with one
of his two goals, but the Red Wings tallied twice in the first 1:20
of the final frame to take the lead for good.
“We showed a lot of battle,” center Nick Bjugstad said. “We
fought back and worked hard. Unfortunately, it didn’t go the way we
wanted it to.”
Thomas was on the bench for that game after being activated from
injured reserve during the Christmas break. He’s been out of action
since a 3-2 shootout win over Detroit on Dec. 10.
Before his injury, Thomas gave up a combined five goals during a
personal three-game win streak. He’s 9-4-0 with a 1.83
goals-against average in his last 13 starts against Montreal,
including seven in the 2011 playoffs while leading Boston to a
If he gets a long-awaited start, Thomas will try to help the
Panthers avoid their longest drought without a point this season.
Florida lost nine in a row from Oct. 22-Nov. 10, but earned four
points during that skid.
The Panthers lost in each of last season’s two visits from
Montreal and fell behind 4-0 after two periods in a 5-2 loss March
10. The Canadiens (23-13-3) enter this game having split their last
eight but have also earned back-to-back victories, both on the
After winning 4-3 in overtime over Nashville on Dec. 21,
Montreal edged Tampa Bay 2-1 in a shootout in its return from the
“I really appreciated our team effort,” coach Michel Therrien
said. “The energy was there right from the get-go. Guys competed
hard, they were quick on puck, and we didn’t force plays when we
didn’t have to.”
Carey Price earned his fourth win in five games by making 23
saves and stopping all three attempts in the extra session.
“He’s been phenomenal,” Therrien said about Price. “In the third
period, when they gave us a push, he was making key saves. He
showed again tonight he is one of the best goalies in the NHL.”
Therrien could be tempted to stick with Price, who is 3-1-1 with
0.98 GAA in his last five games against Florida. Peter Budaj is
1-4-1 with a 2.43 GAA in six lifetime matchups.