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Recap: Panthers score half dozen, hold off Canadiens 6-5 to sweep weekend slate

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Cats bank two more points, win another big divisional game

Montreal Canadiens v Florida Panthers Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

A day after squeaking out a win against the Detroit Red Wings, Joel Quenneville spoke of more urgency from his club, knowing the dangerous Montreal Canadiens were en route to Sunrise for a big divisional game.

The Panthers brought that urgency and, thankfully, a half dozen goals to boot.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped quite a few high-danger chances in the third period, and Jonathan Huberdeau posted a four-point evening as the Cats held on to win a wild 6-5 game in regulation time.

Florida came out flying in the first period, scoring twice in the first ten minutes before Montreal would score a power play goal to cut the Panther lead to one going into the second period.

The Cats got away from what worked in the first period a bit as Montreal managed to grab a brief 3-2 lead thanks to two goals in under a minute from Jeff Petry and Max Domi. That sense of urgency came back to Florida however, as the first line trio of Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov and Evgenii Dadonov completely took over.

The Panthers would cede a couple goals in the third, bringing Montreal to within one with just minutes remaining. The Habs pulled netminder Carey Price in an attempt to score the equalizer, but strong play by Bobrovsky kept the puck out of the net and allowed the Cats to secure a huge two points in a very important divisional game.

The win kept Montreal behind the Panthers in the standings for now, but Florida will face the Canadiens three more times yet this season, with two of those contests taking place in the Bell Centre. The Panthers will need more efforts like this to hang on to that lead as the season reaches its end.

The Cats will rest up Monday before facing off against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena. The Jackets are 6-0-4 in their last ten, and have been playing some determined hockey, so Florida will need to treat this game just like any other: bring that urgency.

Brush up on your french and visit Eyes on the Prize to indulge in some Montreal misery, and join us for another LBC Game Thread on Tuesday night. Until then, may everyone have a safe and happy new year!

Observations

  • Noel Acciari scored yet again. The dude is just money this season and he’s not slowing down. Not only that, he laid out a few big hits during the game and was his usual defensively responsible self.
  • The Panthers came out in the first period playing a very physical style, tenaciously checking Montreal and giving them almost no time and space to work with the puck. For some reason they let off in the second, and as expected the Habs all of the sudden score enough to take the lead. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Cats may not have the biggest of bodies, but they have a lot of fast, aggressive players and it suits the club well to roll four lines that can make the opponent think twice who is over their shoulder.
  • The zeitgeist is that Mark Pysyk as a forward just highlights the lack of forward depth the Panthers have. That may be true, but at the same time, he’s performed fairly decent as a depth forward this season. I think the team will benefit from Jayce Hawryluk being back in the bottom six, but Pysyk has been a passable substitute.
  • Max Domi is going to put up some numbers against Florida over the years. He’s got their number.
  • We as fans like to bag on the defensive side of the puck, but against Montreal, the Florida forwards were caught puck-watching on the second and third goals against. The Cats have to keep their defensive focus during the entire game and ensure that they’re keeping their coverage because it’s clear when they don’t things break down fast.
  • Riley Stillman played a fairly solid game, and wasn’t too noticeable, which is exactly what you want in a rookie defenseman. He’s had quite a few giveaways but ironically not terribly worse than some of the other defensemen on the Panthers.
  • Glad to see Aaron Ekblad back. He’s such a big piece of the puzzle defensively for the Panthers and they really suffer any time he’s not able to play.