panthers dec 29 IIThe Canadiens weren’t as fortunate as they were against the Tampa Bay Lightning 24 hours earlier when they pulled out a shootout win.  The Florida Panthers took advantage of another flat Montreal percentage to take a 4-1 win Sunday evening.  Dimitry Kulikov, Brian Campbell, Alexander Barkov and Sean Bergenheim scored for the Panthers. Bergenheim’s goal came into an empty net.   Brandon Prust gave the Canadiens some life early in the second period when his goal tied.   Shots on goal were 25-22 in favour of Florida.   The three stars were Barkov, goaltender Scott Clemenssen and defenceman Brian Campbell.


Adding It Up –

Goat!- Marc Bergevin apparently told Francois Gagnon of RDS that there is a lot of trade  interest in Max Pacioretty but he is not on the trade block.  He might change his mind after this game.  He may have had a worse game in his NHL career but I can’t remember it.  On the first goal, he had a great scoring chance 4-on-4 and missed an open net.  He floated behind the Florida net as the Panthers broke out on a 2-on-1.  The trailer on the play which might have been his check scored.

No BetterPacioretty was on the ice for the next two Florida goals as well.  In both cases, he failed to make a check at centre ice and the Panthers outmanned the Canadiens in their own end.  Minus-3 through two periods.  He also took a lazy offensive zone penalty with five minutes left in the game and the Canadiens trying to mount some kind of comeback.   In all fairness, losing two teeth and taking 21 stitches in the Tampa game probably didn’t help.   By the way, in 15 games against Florida, Pacioretty has failed to score a goal.

Lots of CompanyAlexei Emelin and Andrei Markov were also minus three through the first two periods and fully earned the rating.   Emelin had a particularly rough night.  Rene Bourque took a horrible penalty 23 seconds into a first period erasing a power play and on that 4-on4 the Panther scored their first goal.

The Best Part –  Terrible thing to consider when your fourth line is the best part of the hockey team, not only in this game but through most of the first four games of the six game road trip.  Brandon Prust put the Canadiens on the board, and tied the game at 1-1, through sheer hard work in front.

No Support – Give amnesty for Peter Budaj.  He did his best.  The Canadiens game went from bad in the first period to worse in the second.  Most of the second period was played in Budaj’s face.  Inevitably he gave up two goals as the Canadiens were outshot 11-5.

No Goal – The Canadiens had two goals taken back by the game officials.  The first was a legitimate call as Brian Gionta knocked the puck down with the high stick before putting it in the net.  The second is one of those calls that drive one crazy.  Alex Galchenyuk was knocked into the crease by a defenceman but never hit the goaltender as Daniel Briere scored.  Bad call.

Worth Mentioning – ……Without an effective power play, the Canadiens’s offense borders on hopeless.   They have scored a total of 23 goals over the last twelve games.  ….Going into the game the power play had scored only 3 times over it’s last 32 opportunities…barely ten percent. ….. Scott Gomez, the seven million dollar Canadiens man, now playing for 900-thousand for the Panthers, was a healthy scratch for the 11th time in the last 14 games. …..Goaltender Tim Thomas was healthy for this game after a groin injury took him out of the lineup for two weeks.  The Panthers played a hunch and elected to go with Scott   Clemenssen ran his career record against the Canadiens to 8-1-0. ….The Canadiens have not scored a power play goal in their last seven games on the road.

Moving On – The Canadiens charter to Carolina where they’ll play the Hurricanes on New Year’s Eve.  Then on to Dallas to finish up the road trip against the Stars on January 4th.  So far on the road trip the Canadiens are 2-2-0.