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Whole Nine Yards: Florida Panthers 5, Montreal Canadiens 1

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The Florida Panthers have had their way with the Montreal Canadiens lately but they certainly had a fight on their hands Thursday night.

Until the walls caved in on the Canadiens in the third, that is.

Florida won for the ninth time in 10 games against Montreal on Thursday, scoring four times in the third to earn a 5-1 win.

The lone win for the Canadiens?

That came on Game 82 of the Presidents’ Trophy season when the Panthers all but waved a white flag during warmups and watched the Canadiens skate to a 10-2 win in what was Jonas Johanssen’s second and final start for Florida.

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On Thursday, the Canadiens were fresh off a 4-2 win in Columbus the night before — and came to play.

The Panthers did as well.

With both Sergei Bobrovsky and Cayden Primeau making some great saves, the game was scoreless until Sasha Barkov continued his dominance over the Canadiens by scoring his 23rd goal in 32 games against Montreal.

With the two playing 4-on-4 hockey, Barkov picked off a pass at the top of the Florida zone and drove in on the Montreal goalie and rifled a shot through.

It remained 1-0 going into the third — but did not stay that way for long.

Montreal won the opening faceoff but lost the puck.

Sam Bennett picked it up and, like Barkov, drove in and scored just 8 seconds into the period.

Florida made it 3-0 at 3:12 when Evan Rodrigues got his first goal in 11 games by firing a wrist shot from above the right circle.

With the way Bobrovsky has been playing, that was more than enough for the Panthers to get their ninth win in their past 10 against Montreal.

Still, the Panthers kept on coming, getting a power play goal from Carter Verhaeghe at 5:49.

Bobrovsky’s bid for a second consecutive shutout ended midway through the third when Johnathan Kovacevic’s shot bounded off the goalie’s glove and went through.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson got the final goal with 12 seconds left.

Florida’s penalty kill, which has been downright fantastic the past few games, kept up the heat Thursday.

And, the kill had to be on from the start.

Niko Mikkola showed some fire in the opening minute by going after Josh Anderson putting the Panthers down just 33 seconds in.

Florida ended up killing off that penalty, not to mention the next one Mikkola took later on in the period.

Speaking of Anderson, Jonah Gadjovich went after him in the final minute.

In all, the Panthers snuffed out Montreal’s first six power plays (although two were short-lived) and have now been successful on their past 26 kills.

Florida will be headed home now after going 2-0-1 on their three-game Canadian road trip with a win in Ottawa and a recalled Rodrigues shootout goal in Toronto from getting all six available points.

The Islanders visit Sunrise on Saturday as the Panthers kick off a challenging three-game homestand with Dallas and Pittsburgh also coming to town.

GOALS OF THE GAME

  • Panthers 1, Canadiens 0 (7:07, 2nd 4/4): Sasha Barkov picks off a pass at the top of the zone, drives in and beats Cayden Primeau for his 23rd goal in 32 games against the Canadiens.
  • Panthers 2, Canadiens 0 (0:08, 3rd): Sam Bennett jumps on a loose puck, drives in and scores.
  • Panthers 3, Canadiens 0 (3:12, 3rd): Evan Rodrigues took a nice feed from Sam Reinhart and fired a sharp wrist shot from the top of the right circle.
  • Panthers 4, Canadiens 0 (5:49, 3rd PP): Carter Verhaeghe got in on the fun, scoring on the power play.
  • Panthers 4, Canadiens 1 (9:30, 3rd): Sergei Bobrovsky’s shutout bid ended when Johnathan Kovacevic’s shot bounced off the glove.
  • Panthers 5, Canadiens 1 (19:48, 3rd): Oliver Ekman-Larsson puts the finishing touches with a 45-foot blast.

GR’S 3 STARS OF THE GAME

1. Sergei Bobrovsky (21 saves), Florida

2. Sasha Barkov (goal, assist), Florida

3. Evan Rodrigues (goal, assist), Florida

ON DECK

NEW YORK ISLANDERS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; 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 — At Florida: Saturday; March 28. At Islanders: Jan 27.
  • All-time regular season series: Panthers lead 56-33-11, 8 ties
  • Next Up for the Panthers: Wednesday vs. Dallas, 7 p.m. (TNT)

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