The last place Canadiens (1-4-2) played host to the 6th place Panthers on Monday night as three new Canadiens made their debut with the club – goalie Peter Budaj and forwards Michael Blunden and recent acquisition Petteri Nokelainen. Jaroslav Spacek also returned to the lineup after missing a few games with an undisclosed upper body injury. Marco Sturm made his debut for the Panthers as he was recently acquired in a trade from Vancouver.
Max Pacioretty started the game on the right foot drawing an early penalty leading to the first goal of the season by Erik Cole; for all those who did not check your stats he only had 3 power play goals in all of last season. Raphael Diaz took the shot which both Pacioretty and Cole deflected passed Panthers goalie Jacob Markstrom. Erik Cole was right above the crease screening Markstrom. Montreal had another power play in the second half of the first period but were thwarted despite some very high quality chances and goal mouth scrambles.
Josh Gorges put the Canadiens a man down with a roughing penalty. On the resulting penalty kill Mike Cammalleri was very sloppy behind Budaj and the puck ended up in the slot where Panthers forward Tomas Fleischmann slipped in his 2nd goal of the season. Budaj was the less tested of the two goalies in the first with the Habs outshooting the Cats 14-9.
P.K Subban had a fantastic start to the second creating many chances to score and many Canadiens were getting down and dirty in the crease with Markstrom unfortunately none of those early chances and hard work resulted in any lead for the much home team. Budaj was tested a couple of times while Subban served two minutes for holding the stick, most notably stopping Stephen Weiss on a clear cut breakaway. The Panthers controlled the later half of the third period but were also unable to take the lead themselves.
Max Pacioretty was injured in the final minute of the 2nd period with an upper body injury and did not return to the game adding to the already packed medical room of the Canadiens. The club says more information will be available on Tuesday.
Florida took the lead when Scottie Upshall directed a point shot passed Budaj for his first goal of the season. The goal was reviewed but ultimately the ruling on the ice stood and Montreal lost any life they had in their game, sat back and allowed Florida to make the last half of the period go by without the Habs having consecutive shifts in the offensive zone. They managed some sustained pressure in the final two minutes and even drew a penalty but it was too little too late as Florida left the Bell Centre with two points and extended the Habs’ losing streak to 6 games. This is their longest losing streak since February 2007, a season in which they missed the playoffs.
HW 3 Stars of the Night
1. Erik Cole: 1 goal, 6 shots, -1 rating, 15:30 TOI
Cole was given a gift on his first goal as a Hab because if the puck did indeed touch him it barely did; that said he was in the right place at the right time. He did mange to get 6 shots on goal and even
played over two minutes of power play time. More in fact than the power play ‘specialist’ Mathieu Darche.
2. Peter Budaj: 29 saves, .935 save %
A quality debut for the Canadiens’ backup. He made a couple of big saves and only allowed two goals, keeping the Canadiens in the game until the end. If he had the goal support a desperate team should provide he could have even picked up two points tonight. His rebound control was very good.
3. Max Pacioretty: 1 assist, 2 shots, 1 hit, 1 blocked shot 10:04 TOI
Max drew a penalty and picked up an assist on the Canadiens only goal. He was his usual self and did his best to create space for his line mates. The Canadiens missed him in the third period.