The Florida Panthers came back from a three-goal deficit and defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 on Saturday night at BB&T Center. The Panthers set a franchise record with their 44th victory of the regular season. They had 43 wins during the 1999-2000 season. Both teams will meet again three days from today in Montreal
Montreal(36-37-6) was able to score first at 10:14 of the first period. Brian Campbell passed the puck behind Aaron Ekblad in his own defensive zone. Max Pacioretty recovered it on the left wing and passed it back to Joel Hanley on the left point. His slapshot was stopped in the slot area then Brendan Gallagher turned around and put a shot by Roberto Luongo for a 1-0 lead.
The Canadiens would score twice in a time span of 1:19 midway through the second period and extended their gap to 3-0. Paul Byron came in through the right circle on a two-on-one breakaway and put a lead pass to his left and David Desharnais redirected the puck in from the left of the crease at 10:10. The Habs added to their lead 12:19 as Lars Eller sent a pass from the left corner to the top of the crease and Torrey Mitchell scored from close range.
Florida(44-25-9) broke the shutout with 6:47 remaining in the second. Aleksander Barkov won a face-off in the right circle and Jonathan Huberdeau took it to behind the Montreal cage. He connected a pass to Barkov at the left-circle dot and he blasted a one-time slapshot past Mike Condon for his 25th goal of the campaign.
The Panthers closed out the second period on a strong note as they pulled to within one goal 3-2 with 33.6 seconds left. Barkov knocked the puck from a mad scramble in the low slot back to Ekblad above the right circle. His soft shot went to Jaromir Jagr in the slot area and he scored on a wrist shot for his 26th tally of the season and 748th goal of his NHL career.
In the third period, the Cats made the best of their second power-play opportunity and converted it at 12:17. Nick Bjugstad skated it through the left circle to the goal line. He backhanded the puck to Huberdeau in the low right circle and he fired home a high snap shot to tie the contest 3-3.
Florida completed their amazing comeback with 28.1 seconds to go. Ekblad shot the puck from the top right circle and it was deflected in from the low slot by Barkov for his second goal of the game.