123 panthers goal
The Canadiens broke open a 1-1 tie with three straight second period goals to beat the Florida Panthers 4-1 Monday night at Sunrise. Overshadowing the Canadiens win was an apparent concussion-like injury to Max Pacioretty in the game’s sixth minute. Pacioretty left the game and didn’t return. On the power play that came as a result of the check on Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec opened the game scoring. Aaron Ekblad tied the game on a second period Florida power play but less than a minute later Brendan Gallagher restored the lead with P.A. Parenteau and Devante Smith-Pelly putting the game out of reach. Carey Price equaled the team record with his 42nd win of the season. The Canadiens outshot the Panthers 27-25. The Molson Cup stars were Plekanec, Parenteau and Gallagher.

Adding It Up –

123 paciorettyOh, No!!! – We probably won’t know the seriousness of the Pacioretty injury for a few days. It was clear when got to his feet after his head hit the boards following the check by defenseman Dmitry Kulikov that he was shaken up. He immediately left the ice and didn’t return.  Kulikov was given a two minute interference penalty on the play.

The Lineup Shuffle – Devante Smith-Pelly started the game on right wing with David Desharnais and Pacioretty. Smith-Pelly’s night became an adventure. He moved from right to left wing and P.A. Parenteau moved back up to the right side. Smith-Pelly played on five different lines in the game. Along the way he scored his first goal as a member of the Canadiens, recorded three hits; blocked three shots and was plus-2. His best game as a member of the team.

Unprotected Carey Price was under siege in this game. The Panthers were determined to make life miserable for him which may be a preview of the kind of treatment he’s going to get again in the playoffs. Derek MacKenzie went through the crease on him early in the second period. He was unmasked twice in the game. Thomas Kopeckywith a shot in the second period. It happened again in the third period when Tomas Kopecky got away with a hit to his head that could have seriously injured him. Price is bread and butter. His teammates better do a better job of looking after him.

123 panthers gallagherNumber One – Since they were re-united on March 16th the Plekanec/Gallagher/Galchenyuk line has been, by far the Canadiens best. Plekanec opened the scoring on a power play. Gallagher scored the game winner. Plekanec was the game’s first star. He has five goals and seven assists in his last twelve games. Gallagher had five shots on goal. And Galchenyuk was equally terrific with four shots on nine attempts.

Picture Perfect – There hasn’t been a lot to like about P.A. Parenteau this season but his goal which probably clinched the game was one for the highlight reels. Speed is not Parenteau’s strong suit but he got loose down the right wing, let a hard shot go that goaltender Dan Ellis couldn’t contain. He collected the long rebound and buried it. Parenteau completed a hard working forechecking shift by setting up Smith-Pelly for the clinching goal.

Also Worth Mentionng – …..The power play is always a sore point. The goal came with a two man advantage. After that the Candiens were 0-for-6 with only 7 shots. ……Of all people, David Desharnais shared the team lead with Emelin in hits with 4. ….With the assist on the Parenteau goal Jeff Petry now has a five game points streak going (3g, 2a).

In the Driver’s Seat – With the win the Canadiens are back in first place in the Atlantic Division two points ahead of Tampa. Both the Canadiens and Tampa have two games left.. Tampa finished it’s season with games against New Jersey and Boston Thursday and Saturday.

Closing It Out – The Canadiens are home to play the Detroit Red Wings Thursday at the Bell Centre and then in to Toronto to wrap the season up. It’s pretty simple. If the Canadiens win both games, they’ll win the Atlantic Division and hold home ice advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs.