Thomas Vanek opened the scoring and U.S. Olympian Max Pacioretty bagged the next two as the playoff-bound Montreal Canadiens posted their fifth straight win with a 4-1 decision over the snake-bitten Florida Panthers. Meanwhile, the Cats have dropped five of their last six outings, leaving them poised to be passed by the Edmonton Oilers in the league standings.
The efficient Habs offense scored their four goals on just 19 shots, while the Panthers fired 37 at Montreal goaltender Carey Price, only lighting the lamp the one time. Dan Ellis stopped 15 of the 18 shots he faced filling in for the injured Roberto Luongo. Ellis is still looking for win number one as a Panther. Could it Clemmen-time next game?
Vanek opened the scoring midway through the first, from defenseman P.K. Subban, by knocking the rebound of his original shot home past a fallen Ellis.
Pacioretty tallied his first at 17:03 of the opening frame from the side of the cage to complete a pretty passing play by Daniel Briere and Alexei Emelin.
His second tip-in goal, to make it 3-0 at the 14-minute mark of the second period, was very similar. This time the sweet passing was done by Vanek and David Desharnais. Someone might want to try covering this guy next time.
The Panthers responded just over two minutes later when Brad Boyes ripped a wrist shot over a helpless Price for his team-leading 19th goal of the season. Sean Bergenheim and Brian Campbell combined to picked up the helpers.
Despite applying lots of pressure, Florida could not dent Price to draw closer during the third period, and Desharnais completed the scoring into an empty net from Pacioretty and former Panthers defender Mike Weaver with 24-seconds remaining on Big Red. Game over man, game over.
Bits and Bobs
- The two goals (numbers 34 and 35) were Pacioretty's first-ever against the Florida Panthers. What took so long Max?
- I was going to write how the Panthers were doomed by yet another bad start, but I just can't do it...oh, wait.
- The season series between the two clubs ended in a 2-2 draw. Florida took the first two games, while Montreal grabbed the last two.
- Thomas Vanek is starting to find his groove with the Habs. The dangerous winger now has ten points (6G/4A) in his last seven games.
- Ater falling behind two to nothing, the Cats outshot Montreal by a hefty 27-8 margin over the final two periods, but were continually stymied by the stingy Price, who posted his 32nd win of the season.
- The Cats got nothing from their awful power play again (0 for 4), however, they did manage to kill off all five of Montreal's man-advantage opportunities.
- While not a sellout, it was nice to see a lot of people in the seats after some sparse crowds for the Ottawa and Carolina games.
- The Cats will play their final two road games against the Devils and Islanders on Monday and Tuesday before returning to finish the season out with a five-game homestand.
- For more on last night's tilt, check out the bleu, blanc et rogue side of things at Eyes On The Prize.