SUNRISE — It was one of those kind of nights for the Florida Panthers in which a couple of stellar individual performances were almost overshadowed by a couple of poor plays.
At the end of the night, the better — much, better — team won at FLA Live Arena as the Panthers got two goals from both Jonathan Huberdeau and Ryan Lomberg (yup) to hold off the Montreal Canadiens 7-4.
The Panthers have now beaten the Canadiens twice since Thursday and are 3-0 against them this season. Florida’s final game of the 2021-22 regular season comes in Montreal.
Florida, which was having a good ol’ time before the Canadiens scored on three straight shots late in the second, shifted back into gear and scored three in the third to beat a Canadiens team which certainly doesn’t look as bad as their record indicates.
At least not lately.
Florida, meanwhile, has been turning the intensity on and off of late — and in an 82-game season, when you have the kind of equity in the bank the Panthers have built, it can be forgiven.
Tuesday was another example of Florida’s immense talent getting them out of their own way.
The Panthers, as has een the case in a lot of first periods this season, were controlling the flow and driving the play on Tuesday night — but found themselves trailing as the Canadiens scored on their first scoring chance 2:32 into the game.
Chris Wideman took advantage of a bad line change by the Panthers — and a bad read by Sergei Bobrovsky — to make it 1-0.
It was not the first of those for Bobrovsky this night.
The score stayed that way for much of the first period but, as usual, Florida was able to score a couple of quick ones.
While killing a Noel Acciari penalty late in the first, Eetu Luostarinen picked off the puck at center ice, took off and fed a streaking Jonathan Huberdeau.
That tied the score with 3:43 left in the period.
Less than two minutes later, Florida took its first lead of the night when Joe Thornton stole the puck from Jake Evans along the half wall. Thornton swept a quick pass that Ryan Lomberg one-timed past Jake Allen.
The Panthers kept coming at Allen and the Habs; Sam Bennett made it 3-1 before Lomberg got his second.
Florida and its fans were having fun as the rout was on.
Only it wasn’t.
Montreal ended up scoring three goals — on three consecutive shots late in the period to tie the score going into the third.
Threes all around!
Joel Edmundson got things started with a one-timer with 3:36 left in the period, then Laurent Dauphin scored off a loose puck in front of the net. With 1:54 left in the second, Christian Dvorak just simply beat Bobrovsky and it was a brand new ballgame.
Florida took the lead back 79 seconds into the third period as Lomberg got his third point of the night by feeding Bennett — who then got it to Huberdeau for his second of the night.
The Panthers extended on their lead with 5:17 remaining when Mason Marchment got in front of Allen and got a great pass from Bennett to make it 6-4.
Sasha Barkov ended any thoughts of a Canadiens comeback with an empty net goal at 17:26.
Huberdeau, who assisted on that empty net goal, became the first NHL left-wing to hit 70 assists in a single season. He also has 400 helpers in his career.
Bennett, our third star of the night, had himself one heck of a game.
— Acciari left not long after exiting the penalty box and did not return to the game.
Andrew Brunette said it was an upper-body injury and he will be evaluated again on Wednesday.
GR’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Ryan Lomberg, Florida
2. Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida
3. Sam Bennett, Florida