The Florida Panthers played the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Thursday night and were pounded 6-2. The Panthers were eliminated from playoff contention with the loss and will not appear in the postseason for the second straight year. The Habs wrapped up a playoff spot with the victory.
Former Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins player Tim Raines was honored prior to the start of the contest. Raines will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in July.
Florida(33-33-11) started off slow as they had one shot in the first five minutes and five shots in the first 17 minutes of play. Montreal(44-24-9) took advantage and got a 1-0 lead at the 7:24 mark. Paul Byron scored from the right circle off a cross-ice feed from Nathan Beaulieu that went off the stick of Brendan Gallagher.
The Habs made it 2-0 midway through the frame at 10:04. Tomas Plekanec flipped a pass to Gallagher in the neutral zone. He raced down the right wing into the Panthers zone, centered a pass and Plekanec redirected the puck by Reto Berra from the low slot.
The Canadiens struck again with 6:41 left in the first and extended their lead to a three-goal margin. Gallagher put in a lead pass to Beaulieu on the left wing. He connected a pass toward the middle and Byron ripped a one-time slap shot from the slot area for his second goal of the contest and 22nd goal this season.
The Panthers cut the deficit at 10:41 of the second period. Jussi Jokinen was on the left point and passed across the ice where Reilly Smith fired a snap shot from the top right circle past Carey Price for his 15th goal of the year.
In the third period, Montreal made it 4-1 at 3:52. Alexander Radulov recovered a loose puck at center ice and skated into the Florida zone on a 2-on-1 breakaway. He placed a pass from the left circle to the right circle and Max Pacioretty scored on a slap shot which was his 35th tally of the campaign.
Montreal native Michael Matheson would put in a wrist shot from the high slot to close the gap 4-2 at 8:45. Mark Pysyk saved the puck from leaving the offensive zone and moved it down to Vincent Trocheck. He tried to shoot from the right of the crease, however it rolled through the slot area to Matheson.
The Canadiens compiled two goals in the later half of the third period for a four-goal cushion. Gallagher picked up his fourth point of the game with his 10th goal at the 12:55 mark. Several minutes later, Radulov fed Phillip Danault for a one-time slap shot from the slot with 3:11 remaining.