Rookie Cole Caufield notched his first NHL hat trick to power the highly-engaged Montreal Canadiens to a 10-2 rout over the Florida Panthers, who just wanted to get out of there, in the regular season finale for both Atlanic Division clubs.
Carey Price stopped 37 of 39 shots to pick up the only win of what was a lost season for the 34-year-old legend. Price finished the campaign with a 1-4 record.
Montreal got at least a point from 16 of 18 of its skaters. Jordan Harris scored his first NHL goal at 1:57 to ignite the offense and Mike Hoffman, Brendan Gallagher, Mathieu Perrault, Jake Evans, Christian Dvorak, Tyler Pitlick also lit the lamp.
Former Canadien Ben Chiarot bagged a first period power-play goal from Eetu Luostarinen and Aleksi Heponiemi to make it 4-1 and then combined with Ryan Lomberg to set up Noel Acciari’s goal at 14:55 of the third, which completed the scoring. Chiarot registered a team-high eight shots on goal.
Jonas Johansson went the distance for the Panthers and surrendered the ten goals on 37 shots. It was Johansson’s first NHL action in just over two months, and proved too tall a task for the lanky 26-year-old netminder, who found himself down by three just 4:30 into the tilt.
An ugly, ugly loss for sure, but it was a meaningless game where the Cats had bigger things on their mind and were trying to avoid injuries while the Canadiens wanted to put on a show for the fans at Bell Centre, which they did in spades.
The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Cats finished their best-ever regular season with a 58-18-6 record and will face the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs. It will be the first postseason meeting between the two former Southeast Division clubs.
Beef & Poutine
- The ten goals allowed in a single game were second most in Florida’s franchise history. They were roasted 12-2 by the Washington Capitals on January 11, 2003. It was the third time they lost by an eight-goal margin, that’s also second most in franchise history.
- Despite the loss, the Panthers finished with a franchise record 24 wins (24-11-6) on the road and their top-rated offense produced a franchise record 337 goals.
- Cole Caufield rebounded from a slow start to finish with 23 goals, tying him for second among rookies with Trevor Zegras, Michael Bunting and Lucas Raymond behind Nashville’s Tanner Jeannot, who potted 24.
- Undrafted Ryan Lomberg played in 100th NHL game and recent acquistion Robert Hagg made his 300th appearance. Nice milestones for those two Cats.
- Mike Hoffman, Jeff Petry and Christian Dvorak each ended the season on a five-game point streaks for Montreal.
- Aleski Heponiemi’s assist on Ben Chiarot’s goal was first NHL point of the season. Heponiemi collected 39 points in 68 games for the Charlotte Checkers.
- The Habs were able to prevent the Panthers from sweeping the season series. Read more about their dazzling display of offensive fireworks at Eyes On The Prize.