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Takeaways: Panthers wrap up road trip with dominating 5-1 win over Canadiens
Takeaways: Panthers wrap up road trip with dominating 5-1 win over Canadiens
May 19, 2024 3:21 AM

The Florida Panthers wrapped up their three-game Canadian road trip on a high note Thursday night, defeating the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 at the Bell Centre. Florida will return home after picking up five of a possible six points on the trip — improving their record to 14-7-2.

Sergei Bobrovsky had 21 saves in what was his 11th win of the season. The Panthers remain second in the Atlantic Division entering December.

Here’s my game takeaways.

How about that penalty kill

One of the biggest shames in hockey is the two minutes spent in the box after you take a penalty. However, for the Panthers’ players, they haven’t had to worry too much as of late after taking a penalty — their penalty kill is on fire.

In the final game of November, Florida’s penalty kill continued its dominating play. The Panthers went 6-for-6 on the kill against the Canadiens as they have killed off 26 consecutive penalties. Florida has been perfect on the kill for six straight games.

“Your penalty killing is absolutely no different than power play. Your confidence is every bit as important,” coach Paul Maurice said. “When you’re confident in both units you’re faster… our penalty kill now has got confidence, it’s got speed, it’s got pace.

The Panthers’ success on the penalty kill is the polar opposite of what it was in October.

Florida went from being tied for the league’s worst penalty kill in the first month of the season at 67.9 percent — to one of the best (top 3) in November at 90.4 percent.

Out of the gates hot in the third

The first 40 minutes of hockey in Montreal wasn’t amazing for the Panthers. Outside of the strong play from the penalty killers, Florida had just a one goal lead entering the final period of regulation.

When the Panthers took the ice for the third, they were determined to take complete control of the game.

Just eight seconds into the period, Sam Bennett extended Florida’s lead to two with his third goal of the season.

Evan Rodrigues would put the Panthers up 3-0 less than three minutes later. Carter Verhaeghe put the game out of reach 5:49 into the third, scoring his 10th goal of the season as the Panthers went up 4-0 on the Habs. Florida scored three goals on their first five shots of the period.

“I think we just continue to do the little things right,” Rodrigues said. “We didn’t change our game, we didn’t cheat to offense… I think we were over passive in the first two [periods]. We made a commitment to shooting it and they started to go in.

Montreal’s Jonathan Kovacevic would get the Canadiens on the board, ending Sergei Bobrovsky’s shutout campaign 9:30 into the third. Bobrovsky would only let in the one goal.

“The guys did a great job in front of me, so I have to compliment their game,” Bobrovsky said.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson would score the final goal of the game with just 10 seconds remaining in regulation.

Another milestone night for the captain

It seems like Aleksander Barkov is setting new career milestones every couple of games this season.

Earlier this month he became the Panthers’ franchise leader in games played. On Monday he scored his 650th career point and picked up his 400th career assist.

On Thursday night, Barkov added another milestone to the resume, scoring his 250th career goal.

After the two sides went 27 minutes without a goal to begin the game, Barkov opened the scoring with his seventh goal of the season 7:07 into the second.

“It’s another goal,” Barkov said to Bally Sports rinkside reporter Katie Engelson. “Hopefully I get to 300 and then maybe more, we don’t think about that yet. It’s always nice to score goals, I’m playing with unreal players so I got to score from those chances.”

Barkov is averaging just above a point-per-game. He has 22 points in 20 games this season after a two-point performance in Montreal.

Panthers notes

Carter Verhaeghe, Evan Rodrigues and Sasha Barkov all had two points (goal, assist)

Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored his sixth goal of the season

Florida will return to Sunrise for a three-game homestand.

Next game is Dec. 2 against New York Islanders at Amerant Bank Arena

Previous Article:Takeaways from Panthers 4-3 loss to Islanders Next Article:Panthers defeat Senators 5-0 in penalty-filled matchup
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