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Workin’ 9 to 5: Panthers crush Canadiens to close in on wild card spot

Aaron Ekblad and Carter Verhaeghe each scored twice and Matthew Tkachuk lit the lamp and collected three assists in the Florida Panthers 9-5 rout of the Montreal Canadiens at FLA Live Arena.

The Panthers scored a franchise-record seven times in the first period and their nine goals was a season-high. Florida is the first NHL team to score seven times in the first period since the Hartford Whalers did so on October 19, 1985.

Montreal scored on their first three shots as the teams combined to match the NHL record for most goals in a period. This was the tenth time in league history that teams combined for ten goals in a period. It also was the fastest first ten goals in an NHL game, with Verhaeghe bagging goal number ten at the 13:18 mark.  Wow!

Fifteen of Florida’s eighteen skaters collected at least a point in the game. Anthony Duclair, Anton Lundell and Marc Staal were the only ones who didn’t get on the score sheet.

Colin White, Gustav Forsling, Ryan Lomberg and Samson Reinhart were the other Cat goal-scorers. Aleksander Barkov and Josh Mahura each had two assists.

Lomberg’s goal was his tenth, a new-career high, and turned out to be the game-winner.

Former Panther Mike Matheson opened the scoring 16 seconds into the game and had an assist. Anthony Richard, Michael Pezzetta, Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Rem Pitlick also notched goals from the Canadiens. Pitlick’s goal came with Ekblad off for interference.

After a very rough start, Sergei Bobrovksy finished with 25 saves to post his 22nd win fo the campaign.

Martin St. Louis yanked Sam Montembeault after the Panthers scored three goals on its first six shots of the game. Jake Allen came in and surrendered six goals on 17 shots before Montembeault returned to complete the game.

The Panthers, who will complete the seven-game homestand on Saturday against the New Jersey Devils, moved within three points of the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders, who are tied for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. The Cats have two games in hand on the Islanders. Giddy up!

Fries & Curds

  • The Panthers became the fourth franchise in NHL history to score seven or more goals in the first period, and as mentioned above, the first since the Hartford Whalers did it, also against Montreal in 1985. The Canadiens (1920, 1922, 1951) and long-defunct Montreal Maroons (1938) also scored seven goals in the first.
  • Matthew Tkachuk joined Pavel Bure as the only Panther with three consecutive games with three or more points. The former Flame has racked up ten points in the last three games and is now fourth in the league in scoring with 91 points.
  • Samuel Montembeault stopped Florida’s final 18 shots to keep the Cats from matching the franchise record for goals in game. The only time the Panthers ever scored ten was on November 26, 1997 against the Boston Bruins at Miami Arena.
  • Former Panther Chris Tierney drew an assist in his first game against Florida since being claimed on waivers by Montreal on February 23.
  • In addition to upping his team lead in goals to 34, Carter Verhaeghe registered a game-high six shots on goal. Aaron Ekblad’s second tally was Florida’s only power-play marker.
  • For more on Florida’s third win over Montreal this season, visit Eyes On The Prize./

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