After dropping a heartbreaker to the Lightning a couple days ago, the Florida Panthers were taking on the struggling Montreal Canadiens, with hope that they would go back to their winning ways.
The Panthers have been starting games off strong, but tonight wasn’t one of them. They started flat-footed, pinned in their own zone for quite some time. Montreal, who have nothing to lose at this point of the season, were playing spoiler. For the Panthers, a team just on the cusp of the last wild card spot, knew very well that every game (including this one) is a must-win in order to grab that last spot.
For most of the beginning, Luongo was standing on his head at times, preventing the Habs from scoring at all costs. Montreal created some good scoring chances out of their dominance early on, but ultimately failed to beat the veteran net minder in Luongo himself.
Florida on the other hand were starting to wake up as time passed. The Habs came close on one play where Nicolas Deslauriers quickly snapped a shot from a back door pass given from Daniel Carr. Luongo managed to squeeze his arm tight, preventing the puck from squeaking by:
Moments later, the Canadiens received the first power play of the game, courtesy of Alex Petrovic. Petrovic, who’s been solid as of late, was called for holding the stick. Montreal managed to create one high-danger scoring chance out of their brief man advantage, but failed to cash in.
It wasn’t long until the Habs were called for their own penalty, when they were caught with too many men on the ice. What was a silly penalty to take, would ultimately bite Montreal in minutes to come, when Jonathan Huberdeau scored the game’s first goal.
After the brief 4-on-4 play concluded, the Panthers went on the power play and worked some of their magic. Vincent Trocheck found an open Huberdeau in the slot, where Johnny quickly snapped a one-timer, giving his side a 1-0 lead:
The Florida Panthers would finish off the period with a one-goal lead, courtesy of Jonathan Huberdeau’s power play goal. The Panthers managed to wake up from their slow start early on, while the Canadiens gave up an unnecessary power play which led to Florida’s only goal.
Unlike the first, the Panthers began the second on the right foot, scoring in the first few minutes. Just under the two-minute mark to start the second, Aleksander Barkov sprung Nick Bjugstad on a breakaway, where Bjugstad skated around Lindgren and slotted the puck home:
A minute later, Micheal Haley tripled the Panthers’ lead, giving the home side a 3-0 cushion. Derek MacKenzie stripped Byron Froese of the puck, feeding Haley in front. Haley then quickly snapped the puck in, recording his third goal of the season:
Things went from bad to worse for Montreal as they were booked for another too men man call, sending the Panthers back to the man advantage. Unfortunately for Florida, they failed to capitalize on their power play, with the score remaining 3-0 in favor for of the Cats.
Not long after, Florida gifted Montreal a power play of their own, with Alex Petrovic being the culprit once again. Like his first penalty, Petrovic was called for holding of the stick, giving the Habs an opportunity to cut the Panthers’ lead. But thanks to the Panthers’ strong penalty killing unit, the Habs were unable to set up in the Panthers’ zone.
The Cats would close out the second period by a score of 3-0. The second frame was all Florida in play, while the Habs were getting completely dominated in their own half. The third period would give the Panthers an opportunity to run up the score; although, would they do just that?
Exactly like the second started, the Panthers grabbed an early goal to begin the third. This time, Keith Yandle fed a cross-crease pass to Evgeni Dadonov on the other side, where Dadonov one-timed it past Lindgren, extending the Panthers’ lead to four goals:
The rest of the period was more or less of Florida dominating in play. Roberto Luongo was seeing the odd puck come his way, but nothing seemed to get by him. However, Paul Byron managed to get one by Roberto Luongo, which Bob Boughner later called a coach’s challenge to review the play.
After the referees called upstairs to review the play, they found that there was goaltender interference, thus making it an invalid goal. Shortly after, the ref would take to the microphone to announce that the call on the ice has been reversed, therefore there was no goal on the play.
Moments after Paul Byron’s disallowed goal, Jonathan Huberdeau was called for holding, sending the Habs to their third man advantage of the night. Montreal, who were struggling on the power play for the entire night, once again failed to capitalize, making it an easy kill for the Panthers’ penalty killing unit.
However, as soon as Huberdeau left the penalty box once his penalty expired, he was once again called, this time being for interference (which was really odd, to say the least). The Canadiens made themselves look pretty bad on their fourth man advantage, as Vincent Trocheck potted a shorthanded goal.
Vinnie Trocheck slid the puck between Charlie Lindgren’s five-hole, giving the Florida Panthers a 5-0 lead:
The Cats would hold on, defeating the Montreal Canadiens by a score of 5-0. A shutout tonight meant that Luongo recorded his 75th career NHL shutout, which stands at 11th all time.
Overall, the Florida Panthers played a remarkable game for 60 minutes, completely manhandling the Canadiens throughout the course of the game. Your Panthers are back in action on Saturday, March 10th @7:00pm against the New York Rangers!