Seeking their second win in as many nights, the Canadiens traveled to Florida
to take on the Panthers. Unfortunately, the Canadiens weren’t up for the
challenge, as a combination of lackadaisical play and horrible officiating led
to a 4-1 loss.
The first period was largely uneventful for the Habs, as they were unable to
generate many scoring chances or consistent pressure. The period’s only
goal came on a 4-on-4 situation, when an ill-timed pinch from Andrei Markov led
to an odd-man rush and an easy tap in goal for Dmitry Kulikov. Rene
Bourque appeared to tie the game on a Brian Gionta pass, but the play was ruled
dead on a debatable high stick call. The Panthers carried the play through
the latter stages of the stanza, and the Canadiens were fortunate to conclude
the first period only down by one goal.
The Canadiens started the second period with more jump and got an equalizing
goal from an unlikely source: Brandon Prust. Unfortunately this didn’t
last long as Markov, Alexei Emelin and Peter Budaj all had difficulties
controlling the puck in close, and Brian Campbell’s shot made its way in from
the top of the circle. Later on, Aleksander Barkov would add another goal
to his rookie total, with the Canadiens’ defence yet again in shambles. As
was the case in the first period, the Panthers outplayed the Canadiens in the
second, finishing the period with a 11-5 shot advantage.
The third period began with Emelin being temporarily benched and Tomas
Plekanec creating another 4-on-4 situation by taking an unsportsmanlike penalty
along with Jonathan Huberdeau. Shortly after the penalties expired, the
referees denied the Canadiens another goal, after Alex Galchenyuk was
pushed into the Panthers’ Scott Clemmensen; goaltender interference was the
call, and Daniel Briere was robbed of a goal. The Canadiens’ futility
continued for the rest of the period, and Sean Bergenheim eventually added an
empty-net goal with Budaj pulled for an extra attacker.
1st Star – Francis Bouillon: Bouillon seems to have benefitted
from his recent exile to the press box, and played a sound game on defence.
He was strong skating the puck out of the zone, created some offensive chances
and tied for the team lead in hits (4).
2nd Star – Brandon Prust: Prust earns a star by virtue of his
goal, but he and his line-mates played their roles perfectly. He was
effective on the fore-check, tallied 3 shots on net and created more scoring
chances than expected.
3rd Star – Alex Galchenyuk: "Chucky" didn’t make it on the
scoresheet, but he played with a lot more confidence than usual tonight.
His creativity and skills were on display, but unfortunately he wasn’t able to
convert any of his chances. I was impressed with his willingness to go the
tough areas of the ice and endure some physical play in order to protect the
HM – The Snowbirds: It’s sad when I can say that I saw more
positive things from the crowd than the team on the ice, but it’s true in this
case. Montreal fans packed the BB&T Center, and it’s unfortunate that they
didn’t have much to cheer about. In spite of the poor game in front of
them, the "Go Habs Go" chant was heard throughout the game as the fans never
quit on their team… well, up until the empty-net goal.