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Ice Cold: Montreal Canadiens 5, Florida Panthers 3

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The Montreal Canadiens had not beaten the Florida Panthers since April 29, 2022.

In that blowout, Florida rested a bunch of its players in the final game of a regular season in which the team had long clinched a playoff spot as well as the top-seed in the playoffs as the NHL Presidents’ Trophy winners.

There really is not much of an excuse for what happened Tuesday.

Yes, the Panthers had a couple of key players out, but another game filled with mistakes and another sluggish second period cost them in a 5-3 loss to the Canadiens.

Florida had won 11 of 12 against the Canadiens — the lone outlier that 10-2 game in 2022.

With the playoffs about two weeks away, the Panthers have gone as cold as a Quebec winter.

Florida has dropped eight of its past 10 (2-7-1) and the first two of this regular-season ending four-game road trip.

The Panthers, believe it or not, held the lead twice in this game before Montreal scored four unanswered goals to take control.

Florida led 1-0 on a goal from Anton Lundell and 2-1 on Sasha Barkov’s 25th in 35 games against the Canadiens.

Things went downhill from there.

It appeared the Canadiens tied the score early in the second after a skirmish at the net.

After a video review, officials gave Montreal the goal — only to announce there was a communication problem and that the puck had not crossed the goal line.

Regardless, Montreal tied it soon afterward anyway; an errant pass from Dmitry Kulikov was intercepted by Nick Suzuki in the slot and he put it past Anthony Stolarz to make it 2-2 at 5:58.

Suzuki got his second of the night on a redirect of a Mike Matheson pass from the point at 12:24 to give Montreal a lead it would not give up.

Cole Caufield made it 4-2 with a wraparound goal 33 seconds into the third before Jake Evans iced it on a shorthanded breakaway at 4:34.

Sam Bennett ripped one from the left circle with 1:16 left to make this a little closer than it really was.

Sam Montembeault, the former Florida goalie, pitched a gem on Tuesday in stopping 30 shots.

— Defenseman Aaron Ekblad left the game late in the first after taking down Juraj Slafkovsky. Both players got 2 minutes for roughing and went to the room.

Ekblad did not return. The Panthers officially ruled him out during the second intermission.

Coach Paul Maurice did not offer a postgame update on Ekblad’s condition.

Florida was already playing without Carter Verhaeghe (week-to-week, upper body) and Matthew Tkachuk (illness).

The Panthers visit Ottawa on Thursday night.

GOALS OF THE GAME

  • Panthers 1, Canadiens 0 (9:16, 1st): Evan Rodrigues fed Anton Lundell, who drove in and beat Sam Montembeault to open things up.
  • Canadiens 1, Panthers 1 (10:12, 1st): Michael Pezzetta’s big rebound is cleaned up nicely by Joel Armia.
  • Panthers 2, Canadiens 1 (13:13, 1st): Sasha Barkov beats the Canadiens and Montembeault again, this time on a nice pass from Vladimir Tarasenko, Barkov drives in, backhands it past his former teammate.
  • Canadiens 2, Panthers 2 (5:58, 2nd): Dmitry Kulikov’s cross-ice pass to Niko Mikkola is picked off by Nick Suzuki in the slot and he hammers one over the glove of Anthony Stolarz.
  • Canadiens 3, Panthers 2 (12:24, 2nd PP): Suzuki gets in front of the net and redirects a point shot from Mike Matheson.
  • Canadiens 4, Panthers 2 (0:33, 3rd): Cole Caufield comes around the net and wraps one in off the skate of Stolarz.
  • Canadiens 5, Panthers 2 (4:34, 3rd SH): Jake Evans gets loose on a breakaway and beats Stolarz to all but put the Panthers away.
  • Canadiens 5, Panthers 3 (18:44, 3rd): Sam Bennett pulls Florida within 2 but with only 1:16 left to do it.

GR’S 3 STARS OF THE GAME

1. Sam Montembeault, Montreal

2. Nick Suzuki, Montreal

3. Cole Caufield, Montreal

ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS @ OTTAWA SENATORS

  • When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Canadian Tire Center, Ottawa
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL App
  • Last Season: Florida won 2-1
  • This Season (Panthers Lead 2-0) — At Ottawa: Panthers 5, Senators 0 (Nov.27); Thursday. At Florida: Panthers 3, Senators 2 OT (Feb. 20); Tuesday.
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Ottawa leads 57-46-5, 3 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Saturday at Boston, 3:30 (ABC)

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