Panthers fall to Canadiens in preseason finale

Image courtesy of @turbuL3NT2 / COTP Photography

For the first time this preseason, and in the final game of their exhibition schedule, the Panthers lost in regulation 3-1 to the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. 

After making three more roster cuts on Friday morning, including Henrik Haapala, Ed Wittchow, and Harri Sateri, the Panthers iced a nearly full roster against the Canadiens in the second game of a back-to-back.

Nick Bjugstad moved up to the second-line left wing position with Vincent Trocheck and Radim Vrbata, while Jared McCann, fresh off a hat-trick on Thursday, centered Connor Brickley and 10th-overall pick Owen Tippett on the third line.

The Panthers played most of the 1st period on their heels, and that resulted in Paul Byron putting the Canadiens on the board with a tap-in goal at the side of the net.

Evgenii Dadonov evened things up with his second goal of the preseason as he sped through the neutral zone, past the defense and was pushed into the crease. The puck dribbled through the legs of Montreal netminder Charlie Lindgren, who was run over by Dadonov.

The league ruled it a good goal, and the Canadiens’ attempt to challenge it for goaltender interference failed.

That would be the only goal the Panthers could manage despite having five power play opportunities as they allowed a shorthanded goal to Byron in the middle frame and a top-shelf backhander on a breakaway by Andrew Shaw 1:13 into the 3rd period.

Tensions were running high late in the game as Andreas Martinsen took a run at Trocheck near the Florida bench. Jared McCann and Keith Yandle stepped in to help out, and Derek MacKenzie eventually took a penalty for a fight of his own with Peter Holland.

Micheal Haley was called for a 10-minute misconduct and left with about 5 minutes left in the game.

Aleksander Barkov led the Panthers’ forwards in ice time logging 20:46, while Aaron Ekblad led the all skaters in the game at 25:15. Nick Bjugstad played just 11:52 and had just four shifts in the 3rd period.

Roberto Luongo made 20 saves on 23 shots in what was his third start of the preseason. Jamie McGinn, who left Thursday’s game against Tampa Bay early in the 3rd period, did not suit up against the Canadiens, and Mackenzie Weegar and Denis Malgin sat out as scratches.

The Panthers open the 2017-18 regular season on Friday in Tampa against the Lightning before playing them again at the BB&T Center on Saturday. They currently have 26 players on their roster and are required to be at a maximum of 23 by 5:00 PM Eastern on Tuesday.

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