The (Carey) Price wasn't right last night at the Bell Centre. The Florida Panthers spotted the Eastern Conference-leading Montreal Canadiens and their all-star goaltender a two-goal lead before rallying for a huge 3-2 shootout victory.
Montreal controlled the play in the first period, out-shooting Florida 11-6, but Roberto Luongo was up to the task of keeping the game scoreless after twenty minutes. Luongo made fine stops on former Panther Tom Gilbert's deflection bid and Jacob De La Rose's wrister.
The Habs took the lead early in the second stanza when Brendan Gallagher popped Max Pacioretty's rebound past Luongo at the 2:31 mark. David Desharnais drew the secondary assist on the even-strength marker.
Gallagher struck again midway through the period to put the bleu, blanc et rouge up by deux. P.K. Subban beat Shawn Thornton off the boards and his shot pin-balled off Erik Gudbranson and Luongo before Gallagher cleaned it up for his second of the night.
A 1:32 later, following two blocked shots by the Canadiens, a tenacious Tomas Fleischmann fired the second of those rebounds past Price to cut the deficit to one. Jonathan Huberdeau picked up the only helper on Flash's seventh goal to snap a personal four-game point drought.
Fleischmann would take a huge hit from Jarred Tinordi early in the third, leading to bout between Alex Petrovic and the burly Montreal defender. Tinordi would get an extra two minutes for interference on the play.
Right after the ensuing power play ended, Steven Kampfer tied the game up at the 4:57 mark with his first NHL goal in almost three years. The 26-year-old blueliner took a pass from Fleischmann, who was behind the net, and ripped a shot from a sharp angle past Price. Scottie Upshall collected the other helper on Kampfer's first Panther goal. Fleischmann's second point of the game gave him an even twenty on the season.
Luongo came up big, making 11 stops, in the third period to get the game to overtime, where he robbed Tomas Plekanec on his attempted game-winner.
After Pacioretty scored in the second round of the skills competition, it was up to Nick Bjugstad to prolong the game in round trois. The Cats' pivot came up large, going high on Price to keep his club alive. After Bobby Lu foiled Subban, Plekanec and Andrei Markov, Dave Bolland got the Panthers the much-needed bonus point by rifling the puck through an opening in Price's five-hole.
The win pulled Florida within a single point for the Boston Bruins for the final wild card spot in the east. The Cats will face the Senators in Ottawa next in the middle tilt of their current five-game road trip.
Odds & Ends
- Roberto Luongo finished with 37 saves in the first sixty-five minutes of action and stopped 5-of-6 in the shootout to post win number twenty-two of the season.
- Steven Kampfer's goal was his first in the bigs since March 24, 2012 when he was a member of the Minnesota Wild.
- Scottie Upshall's assist on Kampfer's game-tying tally was his first point since January 11th. Upshall has not scored a goal in 2015 yet.
- Brendan Gallagher's two goals gave him fifteen on the season. It was the second multi-goal game of his young career.
- Center Aleksander Barkov had a gritty game for the Cats. Barkov went 9-of-16 in the dot, had three hits and blocked a shot.
- Dave Bolland has now scored on 3-of-5 shootout opportunities this season. Sixty percent? That's pretty efficient.
- Recently recalled defenseman Shane O'Brien, who is filling in for the suspended Dmitry Kulikov, laid out a game-high nine hits.
- Carey Price finished the game with 19 saves and denied Huberdeau, Brad Boyes, Jussi Jokinen and Barkov in the skills competition.
- Montreal was 22-2-2 when scoring first coming into the game. Make no mistake about it, this was an impressive win for the Panthers, despite some of the disparities on the score sheet,
- Check out Eyes on the Prize for the other side of last night's game.