Panthers-Canadiens Preview

The Associated Press

After dropping their season opener, the Montreal Canadiens are hoping to bring a better effort Tuesday night.

The Florida Panthers are coming off a disappointing performance of their own.

Montreal tries to avoid losing its first two games for the first time in 11 seasons as it hosts a Florida club seeking a fifth consecutive win in this series.

While the Canadiens (0-1-0) were hoping to get off to a fast start after finishing with an Eastern Conference-worst 78 points in 2011-12, they couldn't get much going Saturday in a 2-1 defeat to Toronto.

Montreal hasn't opened with back-to-back losses since 2000-01.

"It's the first game of the season and we're just all trying to get on the same page right now. I'm sure we'll figure out and work out the things we need to for the next game and be ready," Tomas Plekanec told the team's official website.

"We can be better. We have to be better. And we will."

Though it's only one game, the Canadiens' lack of production on the man advantage could be of concern. Montreal, which converted 14.3 percent of its power-play opportunities to rank 28th in the league last season, went 1 for 5 in such situations Saturday. Captain Brian Gionta scored the team's only goal with 6:09 left in the third period.

"Our execution was not there," coach Michel Therrien said. "We were missing our passes. I liked the reaction (in the third period). We never quit. But any time you lose the special teams battle, it's tough to win. Tonight, we lost that battle. We have to keep working on that.

"The first game is behind us. Now it's time to focus on the next one."

The Panthers (1-1-0) had dropped 11 of 14 to the Canadiens before winning all four matchups last season, though three of those victories were decided by one goal and one in a shootout. Florida has never defeated Montreal five consecutive times.

While the Panthers have their sights set on returning to the playoffs after winning the Southeast Division last season, they've proven inconsistent in their first two games. After cruising to a season-opening 5-1 win over Carolina on Saturday, Florida failed to generate any offense Monday in a 4-0 loss at Ottawa.

"Hopefully we can turn this (loss) around and show our fans that we're ready to work hard and put a good product on the ice," Brian Campbell told the club's official website. "I thought early in the game, we weren't going north with the puck, and a lot the times you can't be too successful if you're too busy being cute. We're not that type of team. We need to keep moving forward."

Jose Theodore made 41 saves against the Hurricanes but allowed all four goals on 37 shots Monday. Scott Clemmensen, who is 6-0-0 with a 1.68 goals-against average lifetime against Montreal, is expected to make his season debut in this game.

Carey Price has never beaten Florida at Bell Centre, going 0-2-1 with a 2.62 GAA. He went 0-1-1 overall in this series last season despite a 1.94 GAA.

While Erik Cole has tallied seven goals and five assists during a 10-game point streak against the Panthers, Plekanec has been held off the stat sheet in each of his last five matchups in this series.

Florida's Alex Kovalev will face another of his former teams in this game after he was booed every time he touched the puck in the loss to Ottawa.

"It's great to get recognition,'' said Kovalev with a smile. ''It means they still remember me.''

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