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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Monday, January 6th (All times Eastern)

Florida Panthers (16-20-6) at Montreal Canadiens (24-14-5), 7:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - While the Florida Panthers no doubt got an emotional lift from the return of captain Ed Jovanovski, rookie Aleksander Barkov is quietly putting together a solid run of his own.

The second overall pick of the 2013 draft will try to post the longest point streak by a rookie in franchise history on Monday night when the Panthers kick off a road trip against the Montreal Canadiens.

The 18-year-old Finn has posted a goal and five assists over a five-game point streak that matches Radek Dvorak's club mark for a first-year Panther. Dvorak had six goals and seven points over his run from Nov. 2-9, 1995.

Barkov has managed to post three goals and 11 points over his past 11 games, giving him seven goals and 21 points in 42 contests this season. He notched a pair of assists in Saturday's 5-4 shootout win over the Nashville Predators.

The big story was the return of Jovanovski, with the 37-year-old suiting up for the first time since March 16 of last season. The former first overall pick of the 1994 draft by Florida had been out since having a hip resurfacing procedure back on March 28.

Jovanovski was a plus-3 in Saturday's victory while logging just under 16 minutes of ice time.

"It felt good just being with the guys and being able to celebrate a goal," said Jovanovski. "We made it closer than we wanted to but found a way to come out with two points."

Nashville nearly spoiled the return by scoring twice in the final 5:08 of regulation, but Tomas Kopecky had the winner in the sixth round of the shootout.

Kopecky also scored in regulation and Brad Boyes and Marcel Goc both had a goal and an assist as Florida went 2-2-1 on a five-game homestand. The Panthers play their next three on the road.

Forward Scottie Upshall also returned to Florida's lineup after missing three games in a row with an upper-body injury, but defenseman Alex Petrovic left Saturday's win early with an undisclosed injury.

Tim Thomas, who made 38 saves versus the Predators, may get the call again tonight for the Panthers and it would give him a chance to even his career record versus the Canadiens.

Thomas has plenty of experience against Montreal due to his days with the Boston Bruins and is 14-15-4 against the club with a 2.82 goals against average and two shutouts in 35 meetings (33 starts).

The Canadiens are 1-0-2 in their past three games and are coming off a 4-3 overtime setback to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. Montreal's P.K. Subban took a hooking penalty with 19 seconds left in regulation and Ottawa cashed in 58 ticks into the bonus period as Clarke MacArthur whipped a shot inside the near post.

Brian Gionta had a goal and Carey Price ended with 30 saves in a loss that featured Danny Briere's best game with the Habs since joining the club this past offseason as a free agent.

The 36-year-old had been a healthy scratch for Montreal's previous two games, but an upper-body injury to forward Ryan White put Briere back in the lineup and he responded with two goals and an assist.

"It was about time for me to help this team. When you have good feelings, something good usually happens," Briere said about his offensive output.

Briere notched his first points in 11 games and has seven goals and six assists in 30 contests this season.

The Panthers have already picked up a pair of victories this season over the Canadiens and have won six of the previous nine encounters overall. Florida has won four of its last six in Montreal.

Florida's Scott Clemmensen was in net for both victories, while Montreal backup Peter Budaj started the two setbacks.

Price may get the start tonight and is 5-4-1 lifetime versus the Panthers with a 1.88 GAA in 10 starts.

01/06 10:42:39 ET

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