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Struggling Habs host Panthers

The sliding Montreal Canadiens will try to get their dreadful start to the season turned around when they host the Florida Panthers tonight at the Bell Centre.

The Habs are 1-4-2 on the year and have lost five straight (0-3-2) since their only victory of the season -- a 5-1 rout in Winnipeg on Oct. 9. The last time Montreal lost six in a row was from Feb. 6-17, 2007.

Montreal began a three-game homestand Saturday against Toronto and the Canadiens fell to 0-2-2 as the host after an overtime loss to the rival Maple Leafs. Mikhail Grabovski tied the game late in regulation and won it 1:23 into OT, lifting Toronto to a 5-4 decision in the battle between Northeast Division rivals.

Travis Moen and Andrei Kostitsyn had a goal and an assist apiece for the Canadiens, who have lost five straight game for the first time also dropping five in a row from December 10-17, 2009.

Michael Cammalleri and Josh Gorges also scored, while Carey Price turned aside 22-of-27 shots in defeat. Price, who has started all seven games for Montreal this year, remains stuck on 99 career wins.

"There were a lot of good things tonight," Cammalleri said. "We would've liked to get two points against them." .

Montreal forward Scott Gomez missed Saturday's game with an upper-body injury and is expected to sit out this evening's tilt as well. Gomez has just one assist in six games this season.

Florida ended a two-game slide its last time out, defeating the visiting New York Islanders by a 4-2 score on Saturday. The Panthers had been shut out in their previous two games before hitting the net four times against the Isles.

Prior to Saturday's game, the Panthers sent left wing David Booth, center Steve Reinprecht and a third-round pick in 2013 to the Vancouver Canucks for veteran forwards Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm. The 26-year-old Booth was a second-round draft pick of Florida in 2004 and had spent his entire NHL career with the Panthers.

Samuelsson, 34, played 37 games with Florida during the 2003-04 season. For his career, he has notched 135 goals and 179 assists in 621 games. The 33- year-old Sturm has 239 goals and 482 points in 896 career games.

Samuelsson, who had abdominal surgery last year, sat out a game for Vancouver on Thursday due to "stiffness", but is expected to play tonight, as is Sturm.

Tim Kennedy scored the go-ahead goal four minutes into the third period for Florida on Saturday. Shawn Matthias had a goal and two assists for the Panthers, while Matt Bradley and Kris Versteeg also lit the lamp.

Jose Theodore stopped 8-of-10 shots over the first two periods for Florida before leaving the game with a lower-body cramp. Jacob Markstrom made 18 saves in the third for his first career NHL win.

"I just wanted to go out there and help the team out as much as I could," Markstrom said. "As a backup goalie, that's your job -- to always be prepared if something happens."

Theodore's injury is not considered serious and he is expected to be a game- time decision tonight. However, after Markstrom's strong third period on Saturday, Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen could opt to give the 21-year-old the second start of his NHL career.

Florida is 2-2-0 on the road this year and is kicking off a three-game trip tonight. The Panthers will also visit Ottawa and Buffalo during the swing.

The Canadiens beat Florida in three out of four meetings last season and Montreal has taken six of eight and 11 of the last 14 encounters in this series. The Panthers have dropped five of six and eight of their last 12 at the Bell Centre.