The Montreal Canadiens hung on to defeat the desperate Florida Panthers 3-2 in Sunrise, FL on Tuesday night, as the Habs took two out of three on their mini East Coast road trip. Dustin Tokarski got the nod on the backend of back to back games, and Manny Malhotra stepped back into the lineup, with Brian Flynn sitting as a precaution.
Both teams sensed the urgency of the two points at stake as the first period had an up tempo pace to it throughout. Florida generated a few good chances, which Tokarski stood up to, but the best opportunities fell to the Canadiens. Brendan Gallagher was stopped by Dan Ellis on a nice pass from Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais couldn’t beat Ellis in close a few minutes later. Jaromir Jagr took a late penalty that would spill into the second period. The score remained 0-0 after 20 minutes, with Montreal leading 13-9 in shots.
Florida came closest to scoring on Montreal’s man advantage as Derek MacKenzie just missed cashing in on a partial break to start the frame. Florida would score first as Jeff Petry failed to clear a sitting puck in the slot, which was punished by Aleksander Barkov for the 1-0 lead early in the second period. Montreal had an answer a little over a minute later as an Alexei Emelin wrist shot from the point found its way through traffic to tie it up 1-1. Manny Malhotra was called for holding shortly after. During the penalty kill, Brandon Prust showed some finesse on a two-on-none, setting up a nice one-timer for Jacob de la Rose to put Montreal up 2-1.
The lead was short lived as Brandon Pirri uncorked a nice shot from the slot that beat Tokarski, tying the game again. The wild second period continued as P.K. Subban restored Montreal’s one goal lead with 4:30 to play. Tokarski made a big save near the end of the frame as he denied Pirri in close with under a minute to go. Florida out shot Montreal 12-7 in the period, but trailed 3-2 after 40 minutes.
The Panthers started on the front foot, coming close on a Tokarski giveaway, but Subban broke up the tap in. They continued to pressure as Tokarski stayed sharp, maintaining Montreal’s one goal lead. After a dominant spell by the Panthers, Montreal started to work their way into the game, highlighted by a near Galchenyuk goal. The momentum was halted by a Petry penalty with nearly six minutes gone in the period. The Canadiens managed to get through the penalty kill but this period belonged to Florida.
Desperation continued to power the Panthers as they peppered Tokarski and pegged Montreal in their end. The Canadiens began to build a semblance of momentum but a Devante Smith-Pelly offensive zone penalty put an end to that, with 6:28 to play. Montreal killed off the penalty and looked to withstand the final Florida onslaught. Brian Campbell took a late elbowing penalty with 2:51 to play but nothing much came of that as Galchenyuk took an interference penalty with 2:25 left.
Florida pulled Ellis with a little over a minute to play as they looked to capitalise on a brief 6-on-4 advantage. Jagr iced the game for the Canadiens, as he took an offensive zone hooking penalty. Montreal hung on for the 3-2 win, despite being outshot 43-25.
HW 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star – Dustin Tokarski
Tokarski channelled his inner Carey Price in this one. He made big saves, kept his composure and built confidence from the net out.
He couldn’t be faulted for either goal – a great performance by the backup.
41 saves on 43 shots – .953 save percentage – 2.00 GAA
2nd Star – Brandon Prust
A stud performance from the gritty winger as he put up some offence to complement his physical game. His pass to de la Rose on the shorthanded two-on-none took more finesse than one would think.
0 goals – 2 assists – +1 rating – 1 shot – 2 hits – 0 takeaways – 8:45 TOI
3rd Star – Jacob de la Rose
He started the play that ended with him tallying shorthanded. He had a great all around game as he looked dangerous most of the time he was on the ice.
1 goal – 1 assist – +2 rating – 3 shots – 1 hit – 0 takeaways – 15:29 TOI
Honourable Mention – P.K. Subban
He scored the game winner but his contribution on defence resulted in keeping a few Florida goals off the board.
A superb defensive outing for Subban.
1 goal – 0 assists – +1 rating – 3 shots – 0 hits – 0 takeaways – 25:46 TOI
Stat of the Night
21-4. Yes, I get it, sixth period in two days, desperate team, etc. However, being outshot 21-4 in any period of hockey is baffling and certainly not part of a winning habit. They got the two points, but Tokarski will be sore tomorrow morning.