Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Panthers Sweep Habs Win Division Title

     The Florida Panthers clinched the Atlantic Division and reached the 100-point plateau for the first time in franchise history as the Cats put away the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 at Bell Centre on Tuesday night. It is the second division title in club history. They captured the Southeast Division back in the 2011-12 season.
     Both teams faced each other three days ago in Sunrise when Florida erased a three-goal deficit for the victory. Florida defenseman Brian Campbell hit a milestone as he played in his 1,000th NHL game. 
     It just took 10 seconds for the Panthers to get up 1-0. Florida won the opening face-off and Jonathan Huberdeau gave a short pass to Jaromir Jagr. He connected the puck ahead to Aleksander Barkov on the left side and he ripped a snap shot from the left circle by Mike Condon. It tied for the fastest Panthers goal to start a game which was set by Johan Garpenlov 20 years ago.
     Montreal scored on their fourth power play of the contest at the 11-minute mark of the second period. Dmitry Kulikov had the puck taken away by Brendan Gallagher on the left wing. His centering pass was touched by Max Pacioretty in the slot area and Alex Galchenyuk fired a one-time slapshot past Roberto Luongo for his 28th goal of the campaign.
     Florida regained their lead 2-1 on a power play with 13 seconds remaining in the second. Jagr broke out through the neutral zone on a four-on-one attack. He pushed an outlet pass to Teddy Purcell on his right. Purcell connected a cross-ice pass to Nick Bjugstad and he bashed a slapshot from the high slot.
     In the third period, Greg McKegg would score his second goal in two games with 11:02 left. Aaron Ekblad placed a slapshot on goal which was saved and Shawn Thornton whacked at the rebound which was stopped. McKegg advanced to the right of the crease and scored for a 3-1 margin.
     Jiri Hudler buried a shot from the slot area with 1:29 to go in the final frame. Purcell and Jakub Kindl were credited with assists on the play.

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