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Canadiens vs. Panthers game recap: The losing streak reaches four

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The Canadiens continued to rack up losses, as they got shutout by the Panthers.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Florida Panthers Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens took on the Florida Panthers on Saturday night hoping to snap a three-game losing streak. Intent on getting a win before returning to the Bell Centre, coach Claude Julien tweaked his forward lines in an attempt to spark some offence. David Schlemko and Byron Froese also drew back into the lineup for Brett Lernout and Nicolas Deslauriers.

Image credit: HockeyStats.ca

The new line combinations looked to be working from the opening drop of the puck, as the Canadiens out-chanced the Panthers in the opening minutes. With Florida’s defencemen struggling to get out of the defensive zone, it was only James Reimer’s heroics that prevented Montreal from getting on the board first.

But just as the Canadiens looked poised to make good on their opportunities, Jeff Petry was assessed the first penalty of the night for hooking Nick Bjugstad. Though the Panthers couldn’t convert on the man advantage, they did manage to even up the shot count from that point on.

At the other end of the ice, Montreal gave up a dangerous two-on-one opportunity as the period wore on, but a smart, sprawling effort from Joe Morrow denied Florida a dangerous scoring chance. Though both teams traded shots throughout the frame, neither team was able to break the deadlock.

Unlike in the opening minutes, it was the Panthers who came out strong in the second period. Having trapped the Canadiens in their own end, Mark Pysyk found Connor Brickley who quickly made it 1-0 for the Panthers just over four minutes in.

The Panthers continued to press, as the Canadiens struggled to find their bearings. Montreal had difficulty getting out of their own zone, only managing to do so with some degree of success in the latter half of the period.

Montreal also ran into some penalty trouble late in the dying minutes of the second, as Phillip Danault was given two minutes for tripping Evgenii Dadonov. Though Dadonov looked no worse for wear, Danault needed to be helped off the ice after the whistle. Luckily for Danault, he didn’t sustain a serious injury on the play and would return in the third period.

Despite both ending the second period and starting the third on the power play, Florida was once again unable to score on the man advantage.

Montreal’s penalty killers went back to work over three minutes into the final frame, when Brendan Gallagher served two minutes for a delay of game penalty. The third time was not the charm for the Panthers, as the team failed to score on their third power play opportunity of the night.

Neither team could muster many shots, though the Canadiens began to show some signs of life halfway through the period. Montreal pushed for the equalizer, hemming Florida’s defencemen in and forcing Reimer to make several tough saves.

But whatever momentum the Canadiens generated was dashed following a mistimed line change. MacKenzie Weegar took advantage to create a two-on-one opportunity, setting up Vincent Trocheck in the process. Trocheck had little trouble putting the puck into a wide-open net to double Florida’s lead.

Despite facing a two goal deficit, Montreal continued to press for a goal. With just over two minutes left on the clock, the Canadiens pulled Carey Price in an attempt to get even with the Panthers. It wasn’t enough though, as Montreal was shut out by a 2-0 score, stretching the losing streak to four games.

Thoughts

  • The trio of Max Pacioretty, Phillip Danault and Charles Hudon seemed to click. Though they couldn’t find their way onto the scoreboard, the Canadiens controlled over 67% of shot attempts while that line was on the ice. Pacioretty in particular had a couple of good opportunities to snap his goalless streak. But thanks to Reimer, he couldn’t quite get that monkey off his back. For all the criticism Pacioretty’s been receiving, it does seem to be just a matter of time before the goals start going in again.
  • Overall, the Montreal Canadiens are not a good hockey club right now. The team lacks creativity, and it shows when forwards routinely chip the puck as opposed to skating it in, or when defencemen barely get involved with starting a rush the other way. When was the last time a forward not named Galchenyuk or Drouin went end to end? Or had a defenceman other than Petry lead the rush up ice?