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NHL: The Canadiens suffered a shootout loss to the Florida Panthers

NHL: The Canadiens suffered a shootout loss to the Florida Panthers


Nick Suzuki continued his heroics on Thursday night, but the Montreal Canadiens captain's performance was overshadowed by Aleksander Barkov and Sam Reinhart in the Florida Panthers' 4-3 shootout win.

Barkov has already registered a goal and two assists in regulation, and he put the exclamation point on an exciting evening of action by scoring one of the Panthers' two goals during the shootout. Anton Lundell scored the goal that made the difference in the shootout.

It is undeniable that Barkov enjoys playing against the Habs, as he scored the 24th goal of his career in 34 games against Montreal. Reinhart's double – which allowed him to reach the plateau of 40 goals in a season for the first time in his career – also helped the Panthers to their 13th win in their last 15 games.

Suzuki capped off an impressive month of February with a goal and two assists on Thursday night, moving one goal away from the 100-goal mark in the NHL. In all, Suzuki scored 11 goals and 17 points in 11 games during the month of February.


Juraj Slavkovski found the back of the net for the first time in six games, while Alex Newhook scored his first power-play goal in a Canadiens uniform.

In front of the Montreal cage, Samuel Montembole was sometimes left alone. His 32 saves certainly helped the Canadiens pick up a point, but it wasn't enough to lead his team to victory. At the other end of the ice, Anthony Stolarz made 28 stops.

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“We're proving to ourselves that we can outlast anyone at any time,” defenseman Arber Cicaj said. Our standards are very high. Losing hurts, but you have to remember all the good things we did tonight. »

The Panthers (40-16-4) became the second NHL team to reach 40 wins this season, after the New York Rangers, and beat the Canadiens (23-28-9) for the third-most duels in 2023. 24.

The Habs will return to action against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night, in the second game of a four-game trip.

Suzuki's prowess is not enough

The Panthers dictated the tempo early in the game and it was Barkov who took advantage of Florida's dominance to open the scoring. The Panthers captain took advantage of a wonderful pass from Reinhart to enter the area, putting his team in the driver's seat, scoring his 14th goal of the season.

But the Panthers' lead lasted just over a minute. A few moments after Barkov's goal, Suzuki was forgotten behind the Panthers' defense in the neutral zone and took advantage of a long throw-in from Arber Shikaj to score with a good wrist shot off a breakaway.

It was Suzuki's 11th goal in as many matches in February. No Canadian player has scored that many goals in a single month since Brian Savage (11) in October 1995.

As in the first half, the Panthers had the advantage in the first half of the second half. Canadiens goaltender Montembault stood out on several occasions, including once with a great save on Barkov while the Habs were down a man.

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After being left alone in the second half, Montembault finally gave in with less than six minutes left in the first half. After being forgotten in the slot, Reinhart gave the Panthers the lead again with his 23rd goal of the season on the power play. He also reached the 40-goal mark for the first time in his career.

And while the Panthers appeared to be on their way to a one-goal lead in the 40th minute of play, Slafkovsky pulled a real rabbit out of his hat. Positioned at the top of the circle, he took advantage of a face-off won by Suzuki to unleash a powerful shot and make the goal lights shine with seven-tenths of a second remaining in the period.

Montreal then made the Panthers pay dearly for their lack of discipline at the start of the third period. Newhook deftly slid into the slot and took advantage of a Cole Caufield pass to give the Canadiens their first lead of the game, 3-2.

In effect just before that, Montreal's numerical advantage ran out of steam with just over six minutes remaining in the third period. Reinhart actually scored early in the game, intercepting a pass from Slavkowski in the neutral zone and putting the ball over Montembault's shoulder a few seconds later to tie the game 3-3.

“It's not fun,” Montembault said of Reinhardt's equalizer at short. I think when I watched it afterward, I might have wanted to play it differently. I was expecting more from the pass. It's a good shot, but it's frustrating. We played a good third period and I think we deserved to win. »

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Extra time created some great scoring opportunities, but Montembault and Stolarz fought off every opportunity. Barkov and Lundell scored in the shootout for Florida, while Caufield was the Habs' lone scorer.