After holding the top spot in the Atlantic Division for just twenty-hour hours, the Florida Panthers served notice that they intend on spending a lot more time in first place with a 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens in front of a large crowd of 19,822 people at the BB&T Center.
Aleksander Barkov scored twice for the second straight game and ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr potted the 733rd of his amazing career to power the Cats to their seventh win in a row. That ties the franchise record for most consecutive wins, last accomplished in March 2008.
After newly-acquired Ben Scrivens made some nice stops to start the game, the Habs opened the scoring on Max Pacioretty's power-play goal 12:59. Pacioretty beat a fallen Roberto Luongo glove side after collecting a pass from P.K. Subban. Alex Galchenyuk picked up the secondary assist on the play. Dmitry Kulikov was the guilty party, sent off for playing a second too long with a broken stick.
The Panthers would cash in on a power-play opportunity 3:49 later when Barkov one-timed a Kulikov past Scrivens from the left circle to tie things up. Aaron Ekblad drew the second helper on Barkov's tenth of the season.
Jagr would put some sweet moves on Scrivens after taking a pretty cross-ice from Jonathan Huberdeau to bag the eventual game-winner just 1:16 into the second period. The assist was Huberdeau's twentieth of 2015-16. Barkov was also credited with a helper for his second point of the night.
Barkov put the game away with his second goal at 8:53 of the final frame. After Huberdeau found Erik Gudbranson on the right wing boards, the big blueliner sent the sent puck knifing in front where Barkov was able to steer it by Scrivens and into the cage on his backhand.
Luongo, who finished with 29 saves, stopped all 10 Montreal shots in the third to preserve the lead and raise his record to 16-11-3.
Florida now has 47 points, one more than the Canadiens, and two more than the Boston Bruins, who hold a game in hand.
Cote et Fins
Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)