Bjugstad, Winchester & Clemmensen Lead Florida Panthers Over Montreal Canadiens, 2-1

Florida lays down their fifth win in six games, and their third in a row as they close to eight points behind eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

First Period

After winning the opening faceoff, the Panthers controlled most play through the first four minutes, taking the first three shots on goal and then drew the first power play of the night, when David Desharnais was caught holding Dmitry Kulikov. Aside from a Tomas Kopecky bad-angle shot on a feed from Sean Bergenheim, the Panthers couldn't light the lamp. The Cats did manage two shots on goal through the two minute penalty. Things started to go wrong for the Panthers when Tomas Kopecky was called for roughing just as the Panthers finished up on their power play. Florida quickly cleared the puck twice, then got stuck in their own zone for almost a minute and a half as the Canadiens played keep-away with the puck. Montreal put two pucks on net during the man-advantage. Tomas Fleischmann was robbed by a sliding Peter Budaj on a point blank shot from the right side with three minutes remaining, and Brad Boyes shot one right into the netminder's blocker a few moments later. The period ended in a scoreless tie, as the Panthers outshot the host Habs 14-to-8. The Cats also won 10-of-17 faceoffs, led by Nick Bjugstad's four-for-four performance. Boyes led the Panthers with three shots-on-goal.

Observations after one

  • Scott Clemmensen is no longer the solid number two goaltender that he has been in the past, but he won that last game for the Panthers, and aside from a little rebound-itis, looked solid through the first frame. That shootout victory was the best thing for his confidence going forward.
  • Erik Gudbranson, after dodging the Shana-ban, is looking more and more like he was worth the high draft pick. Taking passing lanes away, joining the rush, and playing solid lockdown defense in the Cats end were just some of the things that he did through tonight's first period.
  • The Mike Weaver - Dmitry Kulikov pairing is looking like the 2011-12 version, Scottie Upshall is looking like he's worth the money, and Jesse Winchester seems to be regaining his early season form.
  • Is it just me, or does Kopecky look a touch slower than usual?
  • Chants of Ole at the start of a tightly fought scoreless game? Really Montreal?
  • Budaj's helmet is very - unique, and awesome.

Second Period

Florida started out the second period much like they started off the first, strong on the puck and mostly in the Habs zone. Kopecky fed Winchester from behind the net for a pretty point blank goal to put Florida on the board first. Winchester already has a career high five goals this season. Fleischmann fed Nick Bjugstad a few moments later for another score. Bjugstad went high over Budaj's shoulder for his sixth goal of the season. Assists went to Flash and Upshall. Hayes and Brian Campbell teamed up a moment later to break up a three-on-two rush on Clemmensen, who made a couple more good saves on the possession. PK Subban unleashed a shot from the blue line for Montreal's 10th shot of the game, with less than three minutes left in the second period. After 40 minutes, Florida is outshooting the Habs 20-to-12. They've only won 18-of-38 faceoffs, but Marel Goc has won six-of-nine by himself. Campbell leads the Panthers with three blocked shots.

Second Frame Observations

  • Jimmy Hayes looked really strong on an odd man rush early in the second period. He skated down the right side of the ice with a Hab on his back, circling around the net before feeding it to Bergenheim for a good scoring chance.
  • Mr. Hockey indeed.
  • Kulikov and Bergenheim each laid down a pair of solid hits during the frame.
  • Gudbranson left the game midway through the period with a "lower-body injury." Unfortunately, this is the second game in a row where we saw the Panthers lose Guds partially through the game and have to skate short-handed through the rest.
  • Kopecky was called for a hand pass - if you paid attention, you'll notice the hand pass caught the linesman in the face. Was he just mad, bro?
  • With under a minute left, Kulikov tripped a Hab deep in Florida's zone. A moment later, he tripped a Hab in apparent retaliation. When there was no call, you could hear the home crowd boo the officials.
  • Upshall's assist was his 200th career point, and his 102nd assist.

Third Period

Bergenheim was called for interference at the 1:13 mark of the period, and the Cats started out killing it pretty good, clearing the puck twice in the first minute of the power play. Clemmers gave up two rebounds in a row before Alex Galchenyuk made him pay, with assists from Subban and Brian Gionta. Soon afterward, Ryan White very obviously tripped Shawn Matthias for the Cats second power play of the night. Florida showed an apparent inability to keep the puck in the zone, as Campbell twice lost the handle in the first minute of the man-advantage. Bergenheim had a breakaway chance near the end of it, but was stoned by Budaj. Florida seemed at this point to be playing with an edge of determination - a certain "franticness" which made me glad to be a fan. Bjugstad almost netted his second of the night with eight minutes left in regulation, but a timely poke check put a stop to the opportunity. Mike Weaver was called for a two-minute charging penalty at the 12:38 mark, giving the Canadiens another chance to tie the contest at two. After clearing the puck three times, Florida drew another penalty when Upshall was called for cross-checking. The five-on-three chance was set to run for 35 seconds. After killing it off, Kulikov was called on to make an emergency save when the net opened up on the right side. Florida still had a penalty to kill. With 1:09 left, Boyes had an apparent goal waved off when Raphael Diaz' stick got caught in his skate. He had made a distinct kicking motion on the puck. Florida outshot Montreal 25-to-18, although they lost the faceoff battle 30-to-29 and the "hits" battle, 26-to-19. They did block 22 shots to only 19 for Montreal.

Third Period Observations

  • The crowd really got into it after the Habs finally got on the board, and the Canadiens seemed to respond to that as well as the goal.
  • Kulikov and Weaver again came up big midway through the third, breaking up a pretty good scoring chance by the Habs.
  • Goc, Campbell and Olsen played very well in killing the two-man opportunity, ending with Clemmers sitting on the puck.
  • Goc and Weaver may be the two best penalty killers on the Panthers, honorable mention to Kulikov, who smartly kept possession of the puck near the end of the penalty kill instead of taking a low percentage shot on breakaway chance versus Subban and Budaj.
  • Bjugstad took on two Habs behind Clemmensen, and came up big, but instead of clearing the puck, shot it right into a Canadien cutting toward the net. Weaver hit the ice, blocking his biggest shot of the night.
  • On further review, the no-goal call on Boyes was upheld, but I thought it went off the Canadiens sticks (two of them).
  • Kopecky's stick broke while the Habs pulled Budaj in the last minute of the game and the Canadiens took about five shots on the goal.
  • Kulikov led the Cats with a plus-2 rating, and nobody finished with a negative mark. Bergenheim and Boyes tied for the team lead with four shots each, and Campbell blocked four shots.
Thanks for reading. Next up for the Panthers, a trip into Toronto to play the Maple Leafs. Check out Eyes On The Prize for the Canadiens' take on tonight's festivities.