|@ Panthers (21-12-4)||1||1||1||3|
The Panthers got the first power play of the game just under a minute into the period. Tomas Fleischmann was penalized for high sticking Vincent Trocheck. The Panthers got a couple of good shots in but Ben Scrivens was able to save them all. The next few minutes featured a lot of back-and-forth play. The Barkov-Huberdeau-Jagr line was especially prevalent on the ice in these minutes. Then, we saw some 4-on-4 hockey as Torey Mitchell was called for tripping and Derek MacKenzie was called for embellishment. No goals amounted from this 4-on-4 and play continued but shots were fairly equal at the halfway point in the period. With 8:36 left in the period, Dmitry Kulikov was given a penalty for playing with a broken stick and the Panthers went on their first penalty kill. The Habs were able to capitalize on the advantage and Max Pacioretty gave them the lead.
The Panthers got the chance to tie the game up just a few minutes later when Lars Eller was sent to the penalty box for holding. The chances of a comeback seemed bleak in the first half of the power play, but then breakout-year Barkov did his thing and tied the game up. The goal was assisted by Dmitry Kulikov and Aaron Ekblad. P.K Subban faced off in a battle against Derek MacKenzie and DMac really didn’t stand a chance, but his valor and bravery was still honored. Both men were given five minute fighting majors. At the end of the period, the score was tied 1-1 but the Panthers edged the Canadiens out in shots on goal 13-12. The Panthers played very well this period, aside from letting in that Pacioretty goal. As long as they stay motivated and keep their defense tight, the Panthers have a great chance of winning this game.
The second period started off with a beautiful Jagr goal and an even more beautiful Jagr celly. The goal was assisted by Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov. The Panthers continued to dominate puck possession in the first half of the frame but all in all, not much was really going on. The Habs eventually started to pick up the pace but Luongo was there to save every shot. Unfortunately, so was Scrivens. The Panthers were starting to be more aware that more shots would be necessary because Ben Scrivens would be performing at his absolute best for his first game with the Habs. With 5:03 left in the period, Jeff Petry was penalized for delay of game and the Panthers went back on the power play. The power play, which didn’t seem like an advantage at all, was promptly killed and even strength play continued, for a few seconds at least. After those few seconds, Reilly Smith was called for holding and the roles reversed. With the help of Aleksander Barkov, the penalty was killed. At the end of the period, the Panthers led 2-1 and also kept their lead in shots on goal 22-19. The Panthers played extremely similarly to how they played in the first frame, without allowing the Canadiens to score. If they can keep it up, and score that magic third goal, the Cats can win their 7th in a row.
The Habs came out hot in the third, but not hot enough to tie up the game. Roberto Luongo was on his game in the third, even more so than he was in the first two frames. Logan Shaw was sent to the box with 12:17 left in the period for high sticking and the Panthers were about to embark upon their most important penalty kill yet. Thankfully, they didn’t have to worry too much about it because after a matter of seconds, P.K. Subban was penalized for tripping. Aleksander Barkov did it again and scored a highlight-reel goal to widen the Panthers’ lead. The goal was assisted by Erik Gudbranson and Jonathan Huberdeau.
The Habs lost their groove after that goal and allowed for total Panther fan and player domination for the rest of the game. Dale Weise sent Aaron Ekblad to the dressing room on a high stick that went uncalled, but Ekblad seemed like he would be okay. The Canadiens, on the other hand, did not seem like they would be okay. Poor ol’ Benny Scrivens was pulled in his first game with the Habs. Then, Jussi Jokinen was tripped by P.K. Subban and Scrivens was forced back on. The Panthers would be on the power play for the rest of the game. At the end of the game, the Panthers won! It was their 7th straight win in a row.
First, to state the obvious, we have Aleksander Barkov. He is not even human; he is a playmaking alien machine who was able to score TWO GOALS tonight, as well as assist the Jagr goal. Jaromir Jagr is also a usual suspect in this section of the recaps. He scored his 11th goal of the season and showed his presence on the ice every period. Jonathan Huberdeau also assisted two goals tonight and was crucial in the victory. In fact, that whole line performed spectacularly tonight. Finally, Roberto Luongo, who made this win possible for the Cats by saving every shot but one.
After a quick break, the Panthers will be back at home on January 2nd to face the New York Rangers at 7:00 pm ET. Stay tuned for a COTP preview and recap of that game.