Sacrebleu! Panthers roll over Canadiens 4-1 to reclaim first place in the Atlantic
Big performance, losses by Bolts and B's put the Cats back on top of the division
What a difference a day makes. 'Round about twenty-four hours after blowing a two-goal, third period lead against the New York Islanders, the Florida Panthers bounced back with a huge 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. The impressive road win, coupled with losses by Tampa Bay and Boston, put the resilient Cats back on top of the Atlantic Division.
Vincent Trocheck opened the scoring with his 21st of the season, 11:46 into the action, to cap off a pretty passing play involving Brian Campbell and Reilly Smith. Trocheck beat Mike Condon short-side after taking a cross-ice feed from Campbell. The goal came just over two minutes after Al Montoya robbed Phillip Danault on a rebound chance from in close.
The Panthers added to the lead when Nick Bjugstad notched a power-play goal at the 5:20 mark of the second period. Bjugstad potted his 12th with ten seconds left on Alex Galchenyuk's double-minor for high-sticking. After taking a feed from Teddy Purcell, Aaron Ekblad sent the puck on Condon and Bjugstad, in a fine display of hand-eye coordination, was able to slap the rebound out of the air and into the net.
Jiri Hudler put the hungry Cats up by three at 12:45, rapping home the rebound of Trocheck's wraparound attempt for his third goal in seven games with the Panthers.
Montreal finally dented Montoya with 3:37 left in the stanza, and the team's skating a man down, when Galchenyuk ripped the puck in from the right circle after taking a drop pass from Max Pacioretty. Defenseman Mark Barberio drew the second helper on the play.
Aleksander Barkov lit the lamp for the third straight game to complete the scoring 11:32 into the final frame. Barkov took a drop-dead gorgeous crossing pass from Jonathan Huberdeau and swiped the vulcanized rubber into the back of the twine for his 23rd of the campaign. Jaromir Jagr picked up his team-leading 54th point with the secondary assist.
Montoya registered his tenth win of the season, finishing with 27 saves. A busy Condon made 32 stops for the Habs.
The Panthers get a much-needed day off before facing the Maple Leafs on Thursday in the Center of the Hockey Universe to finish off the three-game road trip.
Cote et Fins
- Vincent Trocheck's two-point performance gave the young pivot a whopping eight points (2G/6A) in his last five outings. Trocheck was named the game's First Star for his efforts.
- Alex Galchenyuk's goal was his team-leading 26th of the season. The 22-year-old has poured in 12 goals in the last ten games.
- Pre-deadline day acquisition Teddy Purcell returned after a ten-day absence from the lineup (groin) and collected his second point as a Panther with an assist on Nick Bjugstad's power-play goal.
- After spending five games in the press box, Steven Kampfer filled in nicely for the injured Erik Gudbranson. Kampfer blocked three shots, had two shots on goal and finished the tilt with a team-best +3 rating.
- Garrett Wilson dished out a game-high eight hits and tussled with Michael McCarron early in the third period.
- The fancy folks at war-on-ice have the advanced stats breakdown for you here.
- NHL.com has a highlight package for you to see with your own les yeux.
- Eyes On The Prize has the other side of Florida's latest win over the Habs.