A strong effort from a new addition in their latest victory might be the spark the Montreal Canadiens need to overcome a lengthy rough stretch.
The Canadiens look to win consecutive games for the first time in more than three weeks and reverse their recent fortunes against the visiting Atlanta Thrashers on Sunday.
Playing his second game since being acquired in a trade with the New York Islanders on Tuesday, veteran defenseman James Wisniewski paid dividends. He scored two goals, including the winner, and added an assist to help Montreal snap a three-game skid with a 3-2 overtime win at Florida on Friday.
Wisniewski, who scored three goals in 32 games with the Islanders this season, was one of two defensemen the Canadiens traded for this week. Montreal acquired Brett Festerling from Anaheim for disgruntled forward Maxim Lapierre on Friday.
The victory over the Panthers was the third in 11 games for Montreal (21-16-2), which has not won back-to-back contests since Dec. 4-7.
"Hopefully, we can build on this," Wisniewski said.
Though the Canadiens currently hold the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the club their play must improve if they want to remain a postseason contender.
"We were all feeling the pressure," said forward Michael Cammalleri, who has 12 goals this season but none in his last six contests. "We wanted to get out of it and we were able to get out of it.
"Sometimes to get out of these it takes a game like (Friday) where you don't score six or seven goals, but it takes 64 minutes and 48 shots to get it done."
Brian Gionta scored his team-leading 13th goal, and has four in four games against Atlanta. Like the rest of his teammates, Gionta was stymied in the Thrashers' 3-0 home victory Nov. 26, for their third win in four games versus Montreal.
Alex Auld, who made 20 saves against the Panthers, stopped 44 shots at Atlanta this season. However, he will likely give way to starter Carey Price.
Price has a 3.52 goals-against average while losing three straight and seven of nine, but is 3-1-1 with a 2.96 GAA at home against the Thrashers. His only blemish was a 5-4 loss in Atlanta's last trip to Montreal on Nov. 3, 2009.
Rich Peverley had a goal with two assists in that contest and scored twice in the Thrashers' November victory over Montreal. However, the fifth-year forward has one assist his last nine games.
Dustin Byfuglien scored his team-leading 15th goal, but Atlanta (20-15-6) lost for the fifth time in six games, 3-1 at New Jersey on Friday.
"The end result isn't what we wanted, but our kids battled," Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said. "The effort was there."
Byfuglien, who leads all defensemen in goals and points (40), has four goals in his last six games. He had an assist against Montreal in November.
After Chris Mason made 25 saves Friday, Ondrej Pavelec could be in back in net for this contest.
Pavelec, 13-8-4 with a 2.11 GAA, stopped 25 shots against the Canadiens this season to improve to 2-0-1 with a 1.62 GAA when facing them.