floridaLed by two goals from Max Pacioretty, the Canadiens defeated the Florida Panthers 4-1 Saturday night at Sunrise. It was the Canadiens fifth win in a row and their 8th in the last nine games. The line of Desharnais, Pacioretty and Vanek accounted for all four of the Canadiens goals and had a total of seven scoring points. Along with his two goals, Pacioretty had an assist. Tomas Vanek scored his sixth goal as a member of the Canadiens and added an assist and David Desharnais had an empty net goal and an assist. Shots on goal were 37-19 in favour of the Panthers including 25-8 through the final two periods.    The RDS three stars were Price, Pacioretty and Vanek.

Adding It Up –

Getting The Jump – Twenty seconds into the game, Max Pacioretty was sent in on a clear breakaway and the Canadiens were on their way. Midway through the first period, Thomas Vanek made it 1-0 going one-on-one after Brian Campbell fanned on the puck at centre ice. At that point the Canadiens have five shots. Pacioretty and Vanek had two reach. Pacioretty made it 2-0 a second after a Canadiens power play ended thanks to a great goalmouth pass from Alexei Emelin. 2-0 at the end of the first.

More of the Same – The Canadiens domination continued in the second and thanks to a brilliant move by Vanek to feed Desharnais who in turn put it in front for Pacioretty it was 3-0. Pacioretty with two goals, shooting distance for the two combined, three feet.

florida priceAll World – With all due respect to Subban, Pacioretty and Vanek, the Canadiens best player is their goaltender. As seems to be their habit, with a 3-0 lead they turned things completely over to Carey Price. Through the final 26 minutes of the game, Florida outshot the Canadiens 20-4. Price put this one to bed by stopping 19 of the 20 shots and 36 of 37 in the game. Price is now 9-1-0 his last ten decisions.

The Line – Odds are we’re only going to enjoy them as a unit for a couple of months, but Desharnais, Pacioretty and Vanek are going to give us a fun ride. Seven scoring points and four goals in this game. In the 9 games since Michel Therrien put them together, they have scored 14 goals and totaled 31 points. Vanek has 6 goals, Pacioretty 5 and Desharnais has three plus eight assists. Quick….somebody give this line a fancy name!

Also Worth Mentioning – …..Part of the reason the Canadiens thought to sign Daniel Briere was his ability to come up big in the playoffs. All teams are in playoff mode right now, and Briere seems to be getting together as well. A busy and effective night for him. No points but three shots on goal and a couple of scoring chances. …….Pacioretty now has a career high 35 goals. Only three members of the Canadiens have scored 35 goals or more over the last 17 seasons, Alexei Kovalev (35 in 2008), Erik Cole (35 in 2012) and now Pacioretty. …..Even without Tomas Plekanec the Canadiens penalty killing continued to shine. Florida was 0 for 5 and the Canadiens over the last eleven games have killed off 40 of 42 – 95.2%. …..Their power play still needs work. 0-for-5 in this game. During on Canadiens power play late in the second period they were outshot 4-0 by the Panthers.

Moving On – To Tampa Bay for the showdown with the Lightning, who also won Saturday night and remain two points behind the Canadiens and holding two games in hand in the battle for home ice advantage in the nearly guaranteed first round playoff showdown between the teams. Then it’s Ottawa Friday night and home to play Detroit Saturday. Just six games remaining in the season for the Canadiens.