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Panthers continue home feast, roll to 5-0 win over Canadiens

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Cats keep pace with Columbus, gain ground on Devils in wild card race

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Florida Panthers Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Roberto Luongo made 40 saves and the Florida Panthers got goals from five different forwards to rout the Montreal Canadiens by a 5-0 count at the BB&T Center, where the club has now won seven games in a row.

After a bit of a sleepy start that saw Luongo deny a handful of a quality chances from the Habs, the Panthers took advantage of a too many men penalty on Montreal to open the scoring.

Evgenii Dadonov managed to get a cross through to Vincent Trocheck and the center quickly backhanded the puck to Jonathan Huberdeau, who beat Charlie Lindgren from the slot with a well-placed wrister with 3:44 remaining in the first period.

Nick Bjugstad added to Florida’s lead 1:41 into the second when he potted his 15th of the season. Keith Yandle sent Aleksander Barkov and Bjugstad away on a rush and Florida’s first line pivot eventually feathered in a saucer pass that the big winger finished with a pretty backhand move. Bjugstad got free by knocking down defenseman Jeff Petry at the blue line, but did not draw an interference call.

An ugly turnover by Bryan Froese below the Canadiens goal line allowed Derek MacKenzie to feed Micheal Haley for a quick one-timer and a 3-0 Panthers lead a 1:03 after the Bjugstad goal.

There was no cheering up Charlie in third as Dadonov blasted a cross-ice pass from Yandle by Lindgren just 1:23 into the frame. Barkov picked up his second point of the night with the secondary helper.

Yandle collected his third point of the game when he drew the lone assist on Trocheck’s shorthanded goal with 5:04 left in the tilt. Trocheck tracked down Yandle clear after a faceoff win in the Florida zone and went backhand to forehand on Lindgren for his third shorty of the year.

Luongo earned First Star honors for his 75th career shutout, which is tops among active goaltenders. Here, Luongo makes a nice back to back saves on Jonathan Drouin and Alex Galchenyuk early in the second period right before the Bjugstad goal that broke the game open.

The home ice win, their 20th, allowed the Panthers to stay within two points of Columbus, who pulled out a 5-4 overtime over Colorado. They did gain ground on New Jersey, closing within three points of the Devils, current holders of the Eastern Conference’s first wild card slot. The Cats will go for an eight straight win at the BB&T Center Saturday against the struggling New York Rangers.

Full Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)

Poutine & Bagels

  • With his 75th career shutout, Roberto Luongo moved within one of tying Tony Esposito and Ed Belfour for ninth place on the NHL’s all-time list among goaltenders.
  • Aleksander Barkov’s assist on Nick Bjugstad’s goal extended his point streak to a season-high eight games. Barkov has collected 14 points (5G/9A) in that span.
  • Charlie Lindgren stopped 27 shots for Montreal, who lost their second straight game. Lindgren has surrendered 11 goals in those games. I was a little surprised we didn’t see Antii Niemi.
  • Jonathan Huberdeau set a new career-high with his 21st goal of the campaign and matched his career-high of 59 points, set during the 2015-16 season.
  • Keith Yandle has 20 points in his past 18 games, the most for a defenseman in an 18-game span in Panthers franchise history.
  • It looked like Paul Byron ended Luongo’s shutout at 3:30, but his goal was overturned after the Panthers successfully challenged for goalie interference.
  • Jeff Petry led all skaters with eight shots, twice as many as any player from either squad.
  • Eyes On The Prize has the other side of Florida’s latest triumph on BB&T Center ice.

Condensed Game (courtesy of NHL.com)