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Flat Habs Overtaken by Panthers

The Habs came out slow and flat last night in Florida, resulting in a 2-1 nipping by the Panthers and a bump out of the playoff picture.

A slow first period saw the goalies at each end, Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Voukon respectively, hold the fort, keeping the game scoreless. The second period was more of the same but the Habs couldn’t seem to generate any offense, registering only four shots on net. Luckily a swat out of the air on the powerplay lead to Tomas Plekanec scoring a pretty goal and putting the Canadiens up 1-0.

Montreal seemed to get even lazier in the third period, being outplayed and dropping two goals, one on a penalty shot and both by the Panther’s Shawn Matthias. The loss marks the first time this season that the Canadiens have lost when leading after two periods.

The loss drops the Habs to ninth in the Eastern Conference; they’ll try to recoup those two lost points tonight when they face Vinnie Lecavilier and the Tampa Bay Lightning. I expect Halak to get the start despite the loss.

Game 48: Panthers 5 – Canadiens 1

Chris Higgins Screens VokounThe Habs came out flatter than flat tonight and left Carey Price out to dry as they dropped their fourth straight regulation loss in a 5-1 smacking by the Florida Panthers last night. Montreal came into the game hoping to turn things around but it was clear from the beginning that it just wasn’t going to happen. Everyone from Koivu to Markov looked shaky and Price faced more odd-man rushes in this game then he has in the past, facing 36 shots and now having allowed 14 goals in his three games back since recovering from a groin injury prior to the all-star break. To the credit of the Florida Panthers they played a great game and Tomas Voukon was solid when he was needed.

The bad news piles up: the Habs will return home to face the L.A. Kings on Saturday, a tough team to face in this position. Playing the way we were last month most would call it an easy win – given the streak we’re on now, the pressure is on.

Canadiens 5 – Panthers 2 (3000th Win)

Habs Logo - 150Maxim Lapierre followed up on the hat trick performance of Andrei Kostitsyn against the Penguins on Saturday with a hat trick of his own, racking up three goals in the third period alone to lead the Habs to a 5-2 victory over the still-slumping Florida Panthers last night.

Alex Kovalev and Tomas Plekanec had early goals but it was Lapierre who made the difference when he broke a 2-2 tie and scored the game winner, an insurance goal and an empty netter, just in case. The win last night also marked our 3000th in franchise history! Price was solid again, making 25 saves in the winning effort and helping his club improve to 4-0-1 in their last five games.

Next game is tonight as the Habs continue their trek through the south, visiting Tampa to face the Lightning.

Canadiens 2 – Panthers 1 (OT)

Montreal made their second stop in the citrus state with a game against the Florida Panthers; they lost to Tampa last night 3-2 in regulation. The Panthers jumped to a quick 1-0 lead with a powerplay goal by Montador 12:04 into the first period and that lead stuck for over 40 minutes of gameplay. Tomas Voukon and Carey Price both made save after save to keep the game at 1-0 until midway through the third period when Chris Higgins capitalized on a funny bounce off of a faceoff in the Florida end to finally tie the game at one goal apiece. Carey Price saw the Habs through a late Panthers powerplay with several more spectacular saves and the game made it into overtime.

Saku Koivu drew a penalty early in the overtime period and Alex Kovalev whipped a clean wrist shot past Tomas Voukon 1:43 to seal the two points for Montreal.

GAME NOTES: Carey Price was very strong in net; I’m guessing he’ll start against the Flyers in at least the first of their home-and-home this weekend. Saku Koivu also looked more alive than he has lately, moving his feet and handling the puck very well.

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