Florida Panthers (34-26-14) at Montreal Canadiens (46-21-8)
|Date & Time||Saturday March 28, 2015, 7:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Montreal Canadiens -175 / Florida Panthers +158 --- Over/Under: 5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+. Start your 7-day FREE trial today!|
It seemed far fetched a few weeks ago that the Florida Panthers would be able to overcome this deficit, but with the Boston Bruins struggling and the Ottawa Senators potentially running out of gas, their playoff hopes are still alive.
Florida has been playing post season games for a while now but this one on Saturday night in Montreal might be the most important one. A win over the Canadiens would really give this hockey club the belief that they have what it takes to catch the Senators and Bruins and get into the playoffs.
Thursday night in Florida the Panthers used a strong second period to take control of the hockey game and cruise to victory.
Jonathan Huberdeau opened the scoring with his 13th goal of the season, Steven Kampfer doubled the lead with his second of the year, and Brandon Pirri scored his first goal of the night to make it 3-0 Florida after 40 minutes of play.
Toronto would get a goal back in the third period but Pirri would seal the win with his second of the game and 20th goal of the season to make it a 4-1 final. Roberto Luongo made 24 saves on the night to pick up the victory.
If the Panthers are going to make the post season they’re certainly going to earn it. Saturday night’s meeting with Montreal is the third on this five game road trip that concludes with games in Ottawa and Boston. Sweeping these next three is going to be extremely difficult, but it might be the only way the Panthers get themselves into the dance.
Montreal is looking to bounce back after consecutive losses in Nashville and Winnipeg.
Tuesday night’s defeat was difficult enough as the Canadiens blew a one goal lead and lost to the Predators in overtime. Thursday night it was Dustin Tokarski who got the start in goal, and he didn’t give his team much of a chance against a desperate Winnipeg club.
Andrei Markov’s ninth goal of the season got the Canadiens on the board and within a goal of the Jets in the second period, but Winnipeg would respond with two more goals before the end of the period to put the game out of reach. Brendan Gallagher added his 23rd goal of the season in the third period but the Canadiens just didn’t have enough in this one and fell by a final of 5-2.
This should be one of the better games of the night on Saturday. Montreal is one of the best teams in the league and will want to get back on track on home ice after two straight losses. Florida needs every point they can get and with games coming up against Ottawa and Boston after this, their match against the Canadiens really is the start of something big.
Montreal is the better hockey club and should get back in the win column if Carey Price is in net, but this one should be closer than the experts think and the Panthers are getting some good value here.