Habs aim to rebound in Florida

( - The Montreal Canadiens will look to bounce back on Tuesday evening and deal the Florida Panthers' playoff chances another blow as the clubs clash in Sunrise.

The Canadiens fell into a tie for first place in the Atlantic Division with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night after losing to the Bolts 4-2. Carey Price made 30 saves, but Montreal fell to 2-4-2 over its past eight games.

The Habs and Lightning are tied with 93 points, though Montreal will use its game in hand over idle Tampa Bay tonight. Both clubs also trail the New York Rangers by two points for the most in the Eastern Conference.

Tomas Plekanec tallied a goal in last night's loss while also assisting on P.A. Parenteau's tally, but the Canadiens lost to the Lightning for the fourth time in as many meetings this season.

"It's a game of hockey, 82 games. Some games you do get bounces, some games it goes against you," Habs forward Alex Galchenyuk said. "You can't come into a game thinking about bounces going your way. You've just got to play the system right and go out there and compete. We didn't play a full 60 minutes tonight and that cost us."

Despite the loss and tight race in the Atlantic Division, backup Dustin Tokarski may get the start tonight in net. He made his first career start versus the Panthers on Dec. 30 and won a 2-1 shootout, stopping 36 shots through overtime.

The Panthers have 13 games left on their schedule and sit six points behind the Boston Bruins for the second wild card spot in the East. They failed to make up ground on Sunday, falling 2-1 to the Rangers.

Brandon Pirri scored in the third period and Dan Ellis stopped 32 shots for the Panthers, who were seeking a season-high fourth straight win.

"I thought we played a helluva game," said Florida coach Gerard Gallant. "We worked, we really competed and had a lot of great scoring chances. Disappointed not to get any points out of it, but can't ask for much more from our team."

Ellis fell to 3-1-1 with a 1.95 goals against average and .929 save percentage since goaltenders Roberto Luongo (sprained right shoulder) and Al Montoya (groin) were injured in the same game.

Luongo, though, is very close to returning and could draw back into the lineup tonight. He is 11-14-3 with a 2.53 GAA and .920 save percentage versus Montreal, while Ellis is 1-1-0 against the club with a 2.75 GAA and .868 save percentage in two games (1 start).

The Panthers have lost six of their last nine versus the Canadiens while also dropping four of the past five as the host in the series.