(SportsNetwork.com) - The Montreal Canadiens attempt to regain sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division when they visit the Florida Panthers for Sunday's clash at BB&T Center.
The Canadiens have 104 points, tying them with Tampa Bay for first place in the division. Montreal does have the inside track on the Atlantic crown, with three games remaining in the regular season compared to two for the Lightning, who are off on Sunday. Both teams have already locked up playoff spots and neither club can finish lower than second in the division.
The Habs also sit three points behind the New York Rangers for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers also are tied with Anaheim for the overall NHL lead.
Montreal has gained at least a point from four of its last six games, but has just one win over that stretch. The Habs have dropped consecutive shootout decisions during a current three-game slide, but the club's most recent victory came against the Panthers.
The Canadiens notched a 3-2 overtime win when hosting Florida on March 28. Max Pacioretty delivered the game-winner at 2:59 of the extra session to help Montreal push its record against the Panthers to 5-0-1 over the last six meetings.
Three of the four encounters between the Habs and Panthers in 2014-15 have gone past regulation. Florida's only win came in a shootout at Montreal on Feb. 19.
The Canadiens also have won three straight on the road in this series. Montreal is capping a two-game swing tonight before playing its regular-season home finale Thursday night against Detroit. The Habs will complete their schedule Saturday in Toronto.
Montreal is 0-1-2 since beating the Panthers last Saturday and is coming off Friday's 3-2 shootout setback in New Jersey.
Jacob Josefson scored the winner in the shootout to lead the Devils to the win. New Jersey scored the only two goals of the tiebreaker to halt a six-game slide.
Jacob Josefson had New Jersey's second chance and he snapped his shot into the left corner to beat Dustin Tokarski. After Keith Kinkaid stopped David Desharnais, Patrik Elias put the game away when he slipped in a forehand.
Tomas Plekanec and Jeff Petry lit the lamp for the Canadiens, while Tokarski made 16 saves in the loss. Montreal outshot the Devils by a 33-18 margin, but only scored once on six chances with the man advantage.
"We've played a lot of good hockey this year," said Petry. "I think these next couple of games we have to pay attention to details and make sure we're sharp heading into the playoffs."
Carey Price will get the start in net tonight for the Canadiens. The Hart and Vezina Trophy candidate is 8-4-2 with 1.76 goals against average in 14 career starts against Florida.
The Panthers were officially eliminated from the playoff race in the East after losing 4-0 in Saturday's home game against the Lightning. Florida goaltender Roberto Luongo allowed a pair of goals to Steven Stamkos and made 18 saves in the loss.
Florida surprised many people by staying in the postseason race for much of the season, but in the end the Panthers will miss the playoffs for the 13th time in 14 campaigns.
"Disappointed," Luongo said of the playoff chase. "We were right there."
Florida has three tilts remaining on its season-ending five-game homestand. The Panthers host Boston on Thursday before capping 2014-15 in Saturday's clash with New Jersey.