Florida Panthers Allow Goals Early and Late to Drop Contest at Home

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 28: Aleksander Barkov #16 of the Florida Panthers crosses sticks with Max Domi #13 of the Montreal Canadiens at the BB&T Center on December 28, 2018 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 28: Aleksander Barkov #16 of the Florida Panthers crosses sticks with Max Domi #13 of the Montreal Canadiens at the BB&T Center on December 28, 2018 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Florida Panthers lost at home to the Montreal Canadiens, 5-3 on Friday night.

First Period

It didn’t take the Montreal Canadiens long to put the Florida Panthers on their heels. Just 35 seconds into the opening period, Tomas Tatar (13) beat starting Cats goaltender Roberto Luongo with a short-range wrister high on the stick-side.

Tatar was cutting across the ice when he took the shutout away from the living legend in net, from Lu’s right side towards his left.

Before three minutes had passed, the Habs beat Luongo again. Nicolas Deslauriers (2) took a long-range shot from near the blue line.

The puck took a weird bounce through traffic, which found its way in the back of a wide-open cage on Luongo’s glove side. Victor Mete and Shea Weber were credited with the assists on the play.

Henrik Borgstrom (2) buried a wrist shot past Antti Niemi at the eight-minute mark to get the Cats into the game, on their third shot.

Mike Hoffman earned his 17th assist of the season on the play after fighting off a pair of Canadiens for the puck on Niemi’s left side. He then fed Borgstrom right in front of the keeper.

Florida Panthers
TORONTO, ON – DECEMBER 20: Florida Panthers Center Henrik Borgstrom (95) in warmups prior to the regular season NHL game between the Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs on December 20, 2018 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON. (Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

14 minutes in, the Panthers tied it when Denis Malgin (4) punched one home from short-range. The puck had deflected off a Canadiens defender right onto Malgin’s stick. No assists were credited on the play.

With three minutes left in the opening frame, second-generation villain Max Domi drew a hooking penalty from Troy Brouwer.

The ensuing power play would result in Montreal’s NHL-worst man advantage special team getting stoned by the Cats’ PK unit.

Florida got three clears during the two-minute penalty, although the Canadiens did manage a pair of shots toward the net.

  • The Panthers won 11-of-19 faceoffs through the first frame, led by three wins in four tries for both Borgstrom and Colton Sceviour.
  • Montreal out-hit the Panthers, 10-to-8, but not for lack of effort on the part of Aaron Ekblad, who led everyone with four.
  • Aside from Mike Matheson’s pair of blocked shots, each team only mustered one through the period.
  • Nobody finished the period at minus-2, but both Weber and Mete posted a plus-2 to lead everyone.

Second Period

Florida’s NHL-second-best power play got their chance very early in the second period when Phillip Danault was called for tripping Brouwer at the 16-second mark.

Despite a few close calls, the Panthers really couldn’t get set sufficiently to get a quality chance against Niemi.

Four minutes later, Mike Hoffman drew a tripping call on Domi behind Luongo’s crease to give the Cats another man-advantage chance.

The ensuing power play again came up empty as Ekblad whistled a shot off McCann. McCann slowly shuffled back to the bench, in a hunched-over fashion. He later would return with no apparent ill-effects from the play.

Florida Panthers
SUNRISE, FL – DECEMBER 28: Phillip Danault #24 of the Montreal Canadiens skates with the puck against Denis Malgin #62 of the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on December 28, 2018 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images) /
  • There wasn’t a whole lot of action from either team in the second period. Florida outshot the Habs, eight-to-seven, and both goalies were perfect.
  • Barkov was four-for-six in the period in the circle, then left for the locker room early after blocking a shot with under a minute remaining.
  • The Panthers racked up eight blocked shots to only three for Montreal.

Third Period

At the seven-minute mark, Frank Vatrano was called for a two-minute tripping minor on Michael Chaput, giving the Canadiens their second power play chance of the game.

After generating a short-handed chance, the Panthers were called for a delay-of-game penalty when MacKenzie Weegar flipped it over the glass.

The resultant 42-second five-on-three chance for the Habs would see Barkov clear the puck out once, but soon after Vatrano left the box, Montreal put one home.

Tatar (14) beat Luongo on the glove side with a one-timer for his second marker of the game, with assists from Jonathan Drouin and Domi.

With less than five minutes left, the Canadiens put it seemingly out of reach on an Artturi Lehkonen (7) goal, with assists by Andrew Shaw and Bret Kulak.

Soon afterward, Danault roughed Ekblad, and the Panthers went on another power play, with an empty net. Ekblad showed a bit of heart, immediately engaging Danault but getting sent to the bench on a fighting penalty. The power play would proceed.

Florida Panthers
CHICAGO, IL – DECEMBER 23: Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad (5) warms up prior to a game between the Florida Panthers and the Chicago Blackhawks on December 23, 2018, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Keith Yandle (6) came through for them with 1:16 remaining in the contest for Florida’s first power play goal of the game in three chances. Hoffman and Barkov got the assists, and put the Panthers in fight mode – but it wasn’t enough.

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After Jonathan Huberdeau pinged the puck off the post with under a minute remaining, the fighting Panthers allowed Drouin (12) an empty netter to seal the contest for good.

  • There was desperation in the end, but the Panthers need some of that fire in the middle. The last three minutes of the game would see them put a huge effort into tying it up, but that effort was missing for most of the game, and especially the lackluster second period.
  • The truly bi-partisan crowd roared in approval when the annoying Montreal club earned the victory. Visiting fans make me violently ill. Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate being a fan of a team, and I can appreciate someone liking a team that the Panthers are playing against, but it’s an embarrassment to see the home fans clearly outnumbered.
  • Mike Matheson wasn’t very good, and Weegar’s delay of game was nearly the direct cause of Florida’s loss.

Next. Future Panthers Star Owen Tippett Strong in World Juniors. dark

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