|@ Canadiens (32-32-6)||0||1||0||1|
- After a tough loss last night against the Islanders, the Panthers turned the page quickly and came out of the locker room as the better team in the first period. The Huberdeau-Barkov-Jagr line entered the offensive zone immediately and was able to cycle the puck for a good 30 seconds on each of their first few shifts.
- Al Montoya was huge for the Panthers in the period. He made a couple really nice saves early including one by Lucas Lessio off the right wing and another on a point-blank shot in the slot. He also made a quick move to his right to make a big save with his right pad on a rebound opportunity.
- Vincent Trocheck got the first goal of the game and his 21st of the season just after the halfway point of the period. The Panthers entered the zone on a 4-on-2 as Reilly Smith passed to Brian Campbell coming in at the left point who then found Trocheck back on the right wing for a top-shelf shot.
- Jakub Kindl and Logan Shaw both made some solid defensive plays in the period. Shaw had 2 straight steals in the offensive zone to keep the play alive, one just inside the blue line and another one right above the left face off circle which restarted the cycle. Kindl took a Canadiens player off the puck just as he was about to tuck the puck onto the net on a wraparound attempt.
- Shawn Thornton and Mike Brown dropped the gloves 15 minutes in. It was hard to tell who won the fight considering the referees broke it up early, something Thornton was not happy about.
- The Panthers continued their strong play in the 2nd period and that was made possible by a 4-minute high-sticking penalty on Alex Galchenyuk of the Canadiens. There was a small delay as Vincent Trocheck lost some teeth and the ice crew was forced to clean his blood off of the ice.
- After the Reilly Smith exited the box, the Panthers still had time left on the high-sticking power play, and fortunately it was enough time for Nick Bjugstad to net his 12th goal of the season and 2nd in as many nights. A point shot by Aaron Ekblad deflected into the air next to the net and Bjugstad batted it past Montreal goaltender Mike Condon.
- Jiri Hudler had several good chances in the 2nd period including one where he backhanded the puck out of the air in the slot and another backhander off the right wing on a nice stretch pass by Jakub Kindl. Perhaps those chances served as foreshadowing as Hudler scored his 3rd goal as a Panther and the 3rd goal of the game after Trocheck’s wraparound attempt created a rebound. And yes, Hudler scored with a backhanded shot.
- Al Montoya didn’t face much in the period until the end, but he made saves early when he needed to. He had a nice save on a point-blank shot in the low slot by Jacob De La Rose, similar to a save he made in the 1st period.
- The Canadiens got their only goal of the period on a perfect wrist shot by Alex Galchenyuk off the right wing. He’s been on fire for Montreal lately, so he’s clearing feeling it. He had a couple chances earlier in the period but he either missed the net or was shut down by Barkov.
- Speaking of Barkov, he made some good moves tonight including a between-the-legs move in the 1st period and this one in the 2nd:
- Unlike last night, the Panthers continued to attack the Montreal Canadiens and they were backed by a strong period from Montoya. He made yet another point-blank save from the low slot on Andrighetto early in the 3rd. The Canadiens tried getting back in the game, but they didn’t dominate like the Islanders did last night in the 3rd and instead did so in small spurts. Montoya had to make several saves as the Canadiens held the zone for about 30-45 seconds early in the period.
- Things began getting chippy in the 3rd after Garrett Wilson level Alexei Emelin inside the Panthers’ blue line which sparked a fight between Michael McCarron and Wilson. It was a similar situation to when Reilly Smith was given a misconduct against the Islanders for instigating a fight after stepping up for Kulikov, but the refs didn’t give McCarron anything extra.
- Nick Bjugstad seems to be returning to form and tonight was a great example of it. He was protecting the puck well, scored on the power play in the 2nd period, and getting some good offensive opportunities overall. He had a nice chance in the 3rd as he skated into the offensive zone and unleashed a bullet of a wrist shot from the high slot that hit the post.
- Bjugstad was tripped shortly after as he attempted to speed into the zone along the boards at the offensive zone blue line and that gave the Panthers a power play again. Aleksander Barkov got his 23rd goal of the season after Huberdeau made a great cross-ice pass to him for an easy one-timer shot.
- The Panthers would get another power play with just over a minute left in the 3rd period, and Huberdeau just missed getting a wrist shot past Mike Condon, but it wouldn’t matter as they’d win 4-1.
The Panthers played a very good game overall especially after the late collapse last night against the Islanders. They were able to put that tough loss behind them and put in a good effort to get the 2 points. This was a big win not only because of how the game against the Islanders was lost, but because they were without Derek MacKenzie (fracture in foot), Jussi Jokinen (lower-body injury), and Erik Gudbranson (lower-body injury), all of which are key players.
Vincent Trocheck has 24 points in his last 23 games with a goal and an assist tonight, Aleksander Barkov has 4 goals in his last 5 games and 11 points in 11 games since returning from injury. Jonathan Huberdeau has 8 points in his last 5 games since returning from injury.
The Panthers will travel to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs on Thursday night. Stay tuned for our coverage of that game.