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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.

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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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Duke del Valle

Tough time for the Panthers to play like they did before their hot streak at the end of last season.

They need to find their A game again and fast. Everything is completely out of sync.

Kevin Hawkey

Pathetic! Slow. Completely slop on the ice. Mental mistakes, stupid penalties… they don’t even seem
to be trying. I don’t understand how they could be so good all season only to put this crap out the last few weeks. This looks like a Panthers team of old….

ConkmanFL

Maybe it has to do with the sickness that has been running through the locker room for almost 3 weeks now, injuries that have kept players out until they are completely healed because they don’t have to play through them to help the team qualify for the playoffs. This also slots players into different roles then they would normally be in. I do 100% agree with the too many penalties statement, however, I have seen all the games and there are many, many calls that are just going against us that maybe we don’t deserve. Lots of posts in this… Read more »

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