Streaking Canadiens welcome Panthers to Bell Centre

The Sports Network

10/30/2010 12:11:03 PM

(Sports Network) - The red-hot Montreal Canadiens will aim for a fifth consecutive victory tonight, when they host the Florida Panthers at the Bell Centre.

The Canadiens recorded their fourth straight win Friday night, beating the New York Islanders on the road to complete a home-and-home sweep. Montreal, which last won five in a row during a six-game winning streak from March 6-16 of last season, is currently leading the NHL with 15 points.

Montreal, which has also won six of its last seven tests, hopes to continue its winning ways this evening and figures to have the advantage against the Panthers. The Canadiens won three out of four against Florida last year and the Habs have recorded victories in eight of the last 10 encounters overall. The Panthers have also dropped four straight and seven out of 10 in Montreal.

The Canadiens could also receive a boost tonight from the return of their top defenseman, Andrei Markov, who is expected to be activated from injured reserve in time to skate against the Panthers. The Russian blueliner has missed the entire season so far while recovering from offseason knee surgery.

After beating the Islanders, 5-3, in Montreal on Wednesday, the Habs posted a 3-1 win on Long Island last night. Benoit Pouliot and Travis Moen each scored a third-period goal to lift the Canadiens to the win at Nassau Coliseum.

"I think we would like do some things better, but at the end of the day, we'll take the big two points on the road," said Montreal forward Michael Cammalleri.

Tomas Plekanec added a power-play goal for the Canadiens, while Alex Auld, an offseason signee, stopped 30 shots in his Canadiens debut. Carey Price had started Montreal's first nine games this season. Price, who is 6-2-1 with a 2.32 goals-against average and .913 save percentage this year, is expected to resume his starting role tonight for the Habs.

The Canadiens are 3-1-1 as the host this year and have won their last two home tilts.

The Panthers have dropped two straight at the start of a three-game road trip that ends tonight and Florida has also lost three of its last four games overall.

After losing a 3-1 decision in Toronto on Tuesday the Panthers were dealt another regulation setback Thursday evening in Ottawa. Milan Michalek, Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher each had a goal and an assist to power the Senators to the 5-3 win over Florida.

Tomas Vokoun yielded five goals on 28 shots for the Panthers, while Bryan McCabe and Chris Higgins each scored in defeat.

"We beat ourselves. Fortunately it's easily fixed. We just have to be smarter with the puck a little bit," Higgins said.

Vokoun has struggled since allowing a total of five goals in his first four starts of the season as the Czech backstop has surrendered 12 goals in three outings since.

Florida has just one win in five road games this year (1-4-0) and was just 16-21-4 as the guest in 2009-10. Centre Stephen Weiss may not be in the lineup after reportedly turning his ankle during soccer warmups this morning.