The Florida Panthers were the perfect tonic for whatever was ailing the Montreal Canadiens, as the struggling hosts drilled the Cats by a 5-1 count at Bell Centre to snap a seven-game losing streak.
Carey Price made a couple of nice stops on Aleksander Barkov to keep the game scoreless in the first period, but the Panthers drew first blood when Keith Yandle notched his first of the season twenty ticks into the middle frame when he took a drop pass from Jonathan Huberdeau and beat Price from just above the left circle. Barkov drew the secondary assist on the pretty play that saw four Cats touch the puck in the offensive zone.
Florida’s one-goal lead held up until 16:44 when Alex Galchenyuk bagged a power-play marker, the first of the three Montreal goals in a torrid 95-second span. Jonathan Drouin’s beautiful stretch pass sent Brendan Gallagher in on James Reimer, who came up with a big pad save. Galchenyuk reacted to the rebound quicker than Mike Matheson and was able to chip it up and over Reimer to turn on the red light.
Matheson took a slashing call 36 seconds later, setting the stage for another power-play goal for Montreal. After taking a pass from Andrew Shaw, Drouin put one right in the waiting Shea Weber’s wheelhouse and the defenseman hammered a one-timer by a helpless Reimer.
Florida continued to make things easy for the Canadiens with Yandle turning over the puck in the slot to Gallagher instead of exiting of the zone. Gallagher pulled Aaron Ekblad to the ice before impressively firing the puck past Reimer while falling down.
Matheson was victimized again in the third period when Artturi Lehkonen deflected his ill-advised backhand pass across ice to Weber, who slapped the rolling puck over Reimer’s glove for his second of the night at the 9:11 mark.
The final goal of the game came with 9:54 left in the third after Philip Danault essentially skated by all Panthers on the ice, got away from Mark Pysyk and had his wraparound attempt denied by Reimer. The rebound came to a wide-open Max Pacioretty, who easily stuffed it home. Jordie Benn picked up the second assist on the captain’s second of season.
The Panthers were playing a pretty decent road game and had a good chance to bring two more points back to Sunrise... until Montreal scored. Les Habitants quickly tacked on a couple more and that was it. Disinterested Florida made little effort to mount a comeback and Weber’s second firmly nailed the coffin shut. The Cats will face the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday to open an important five-game homestand.
Full Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)
Bon et Mauvais
- Finishing with twenty giveaways and going 2 for 4 killing penalties is not how you win games, especially on the road. The Panthers penalty kill (69.7%) is ranked dead last in the NHL.
- Denis Malgin made his season debut and finished with three shots on goal and two hits in 14:07 TOI.
- In addition to his two goals, Montreal’s Shea Weber led all skaters with seven shots and dished out three hits.
- After registering four points in his first three games, Nick Bjugstad has only managed four shots in his last three outings. I don’t think it’s his linemates...
- Rookie defenseman Victor Meter played in his ninth game of the campaign. The Canadiens need to make a decision on whether to send him back to junior or burn a year on his ELC.
- Carey Price made 26 saves for the Habs, who were off to their worst start since 1941-42 before Florida showed up. James Reimer stopped 32 shots for the Panthers.
- Eyes On The Prize has the other side of Montreal’s streak-buster for you.