Panthers pay the Price, beat Canadiens 4-3 in overtime

Aaron Ekblad’s broken stick slapper wins it

The Florida Panthers opened up a four-game road trip with a big 4-3 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens Tuesday night at Bell Centre.

Florida won back-to-back games for the first time since posting victories over New Jersey and Detroit to open the season.

Montreal took the early lead with a power-play goal just 2:12 into the action. Max Pacioretty snapped home a wicked wrister from the left circle after playing catch with Nathan Beaulieu for his fourth goal of the campaign. David Desharnais drew the second assist on the play.

The Panthers quickly evened things up 2:52 later when defenseman Alex Petrovic picked off Phillip Danault’s clear of a rebound and fired it by Carey Price for his first goal of the season.

Kyle Rau combined with fellow rookie Michael Matheson to put the Cats ahead with 4:38 left in the opening frame. Matheson worked hard to gain possession of the puck behind the net with a trio of Canadiens surrounding him and fed a streaking Rau with a beautiful no-look, between-the-legs pass for the goal.

After getting out-shot 12-6 in the first, Montreal got to work in the second and came up with the equalizer at the 4:22 mark when Andrei Markov’s pretty feed from the right corner found Desharnais open in the left circle and he pumped past Roberto Luongo. Journeyman Chris Terry, just up from AHL St. John’s, was awarded the second helper.

Luongo, who made 20 stops during the second period, held his reeling team together and they were able to regain the lead with 2:18 remaining when rookie Denis Malgin rushed up ice and tricked Price with a shot that bounced off Jeff Petry. Seth Griffth combined with Colton Scevior to set up the goal. The point was Griffith’s, who was making his debut with Florida, first as a Panther.

The Habs rallied for a second time on Paul Byron’s rebound goal 5:46 into the third period. After Luongo failed to secure a low drive from Brendan Gallagher, Byron was able to backhand the loose puck into the back of the net. Alex Galchenyuk picked up the secondary assist on the game-tying goal.

The game would go to overtime where Price came up with a huge stop on Aleksander Barkov’s between-the-legs bid after the Panthers pivot stole the puck from Petry.

Price’s save only prolonged the inevitable. With 2:01 left in the extra session Aaron Ekblad wound up for a big blast with a pass from Jussi Jokinen heading his way. Ekblad snapped his twig when he got the shot off, and the off-speed puck deflected off Beaulieu’s skate and by a stunned Price, giving the Cats the win and precious bonus point.

The Panthers are finally gaining steam and will look to build on that momentum when they face the Maple Leafs Thursday night in Toronto.

Cote et Fins

  • The Panthers have gone 4-2 in their last six games to get back above the .500 mark. Somewhat surprisingly, three of those four wins have come in overtime.
  • The loss was the first of the season for Carey Price, who had a 10-0 record coming into the game. A victory would have tied George Hainsworth’s club record of eleven straight wins, which was set back in 1927.
  • After failing to light the lamp the first seventeen times out in his NHL career, Kyle Rau has now bagged goals in two consecutive games.
  • David Desharnais first period assist was his first point in twelve games. Desharnais would score his first goal in 13 games during the middle frame.
  • Roberto Luongo raised his record to 6-5 with the 34-save effort. As mentioned above Luongo stopped 20 of 21 shots in the second period. Impressive, most impressive...
  • Waiver acquisition Seth Griffith finished his first game as a Panther with an assist, two shots on goal, two hits, a block and +1 rating. The 23-year-old logged 11:52 TOI centering the Cats’ third line.
  • Vincent Trocheck drew the secondary assist on Aaron Ekblad’s game-winner, registered four shots and won a sparkling 10 of 14 face-offs.
  • Don a pair of shades and check out Eyes On The Prize for the frustrated side of this one./