5 POINTS TO REMEMBER: Montour’s OT winner takes Panthers to 13th straight win
“It was amazing,” smiles Montour. “The guys we have in the locker room are all great people. … We come to the rink and have fun. We have one hell of a hockey club in there.”
With the Atlantic Division and the top seed in the Eastern Conference already locked in, the Panthers (57-15-6) also lead the Avalanche by four points for the Presidents’ Trophy.
“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing against,” Panthers forward said Claude Giroux, who had a team-high three points (one goal, two assists) against Toronto. “We want to keep improving as a team and keep building on what we’re doing right now.”
Finding the back of the net on their first shot of the game, the Maple Leafs took a 1-0 lead when Mitch Marner fired a shot Sergei Bobrovsky only 3h25 in the opening period.
Later in the period, Justin Holl doubled the lead for Toronto when his transitioning cross pass took a lucky rebound off a defender up front before navigating the net to make it 2-0 at 17:20.
In the second period, march of the masons sliced the Toronto defense before Jack Campbell came out and shoved the puck away. In the perfect position to pounce, Alexander Barkov then pounced on the puck and drove it home to cut Florida’s deficit to 2-1 at 6:26.
Pulling the Panthers even on the numerical superiority, Giroux managed a deft pass from Jonathan Huberdeau before locking, loading and unleashing a heavy shot beyond the right circle that flew over traffic and past Campbell to make it 2-2 with 5:06 remaining in the middle frame.
From then on, a goalie battle ensued.
In the second and third periods, Campbell stopped 20 of 22 shots, while Bobrovsky stopped all 25 shots he faced to leave the door open for the Panthers.
Hitting that gate in overtime, Montour flew to center ice and pushed a pinpoint pass from Marchment into the net to cap the 3-2 win and keep the streak alive.
“Bob was awesome,” Brunette said. “It’s thanks to him that we got to where we were. We fell back a bit in the second and got back into the game, but Bob kept us in the game. Their keeper was really good too. It was a good hockey game. teams, and it took overtime to decide that.”
Here are five takeaways from Saturday’s victory at Sunrise…
1. IT’S (ALMOST) FORTY
The captain is about to join an elite company.
Burying his team-leading 39th goal in the second half, Barkov only needs one more score to join Pavel Bure as the only two Panthers to score 40 goals in a single season.
Bringing back two Maurice “Rocket” Richard trophies to South Florida, Bure continued a 58-goal campaign in 1999-00 by lighting the lamp a franchise record 59 times in 2000-01.
Video: [email protected]: Barkov buries lunge rebound
Despite missing 13 games earlier this season due to an unfortunate injury, Barkov still managed to post his usual numbers. The team’s second scorer with 88 points (38 goals, 49 assists), he had 11 goals and 13 assists in his last 13 games.
During that 13-game streak, he posted nine multipoint performances.
2. CATS LOVE CLAUDE
Nothing like a PP(G) to change momentum.
Moments after winning a key draw in the offensive zone, Giroux took a pass from Huberdeau and fired a long shot past Campbell on the power play to make it 2-2 in the second period.
Florida is warming up and has scored at least one power-play goal in eight of its last 12 games.
Video: [email protected]: Giroux fires home a slap shot for a PPG
“In the playoffs, the power play is a huge factor,” Giroux said. “For us, we have a lot of players who want to make plays. We’re just trying to get more pucks to the net and things will open up after that.”
Finishing with a goal and two assists against the Maple Leafs, Giroux won the 245th multi-point game of his career, which is the seventh-most by any player since his debut in 2007-08.
Producing at a rate of more than a point per game since leaving the Flyers at the trade deadline last month, Giroux, who tallied 52 points (21 goals, 41 assists) this season, recorded a whopping 20 points (three goals, 17 assists) in just 16 games since being acquired.
3. MONTY MANIA
You never forget your first time.
Scoring the first overtime goal of his career, Montour ensured the Panthers kept shooting when he hovered over the crease and pushed the puck past Campbell to secure the 3-2 victory.
Video: [email protected]: Montour directs a pass into the net for an overtime win
“It’s good to contribute offensively,” Montour said of his timely scoring. “That’s one of my strengths, jumping into the game and creating attack. It’s good to have that one.”
Setting a new career high with his 10th goal of the season, Montour, who has provided the Panthers with a steady stream of attacks from the blue line throughout the season, has also already set career-high marks for assists (26) and points (36) in his first full campaign in South Florida.
“We’re so close to the end of the playoffs that we’re going to get the best out of every team,” Montour said. “We want to be at our best. The playoffs are a whole new ball game. Whatever’s happened in the season, we want to bring it every night.”
4. BOB THE BRICK WALL
There was a long stretch during tonight’s game where Bobrovsky looked unbeatable.
Stopping 34 of 36 shots – including the 27 he faced after the first period – against the Maple Leafs, the double Vezina Trophy brought his NHL-leading total to 39.
“We have no reason to win this game if Bob doesn’t make the saves he made,” Giroux said. “He was solid. In third, he really closed the door for us.”
Of his saves, 16 were on shots from high-danger areas, according to NaturalStatTrick.com.
“He’s so stable,” Montour said. “He’s so calm there. Whether he allows a goal or makes a big save, it’s right after. He’s obviously been a mainstay in our team all year.”
In his last 15 appearances, Bobrovsky holds a perfect 13-0-0 record.
5. RELAX AT HOME
You only have one chance to catch the Panthers at home before the playoffs.
To wrap up their regular-season slate at FLA Live Arena, they’ll take a short break before returning to the ice as host of intrastate rival Lightning on Sunday.
On a home franchise record, they have won each of their last 11 games at Sunrise.
“These games are going to be really tough here,” Brunette said. “It’s pretty good to have tonight, and tomorrow will be another tough one, and then Tuesday [at Boston] will be another difficult one. I think it will be good for our group. We have to clean up some things.”
With a 34-6-0 record at home, the Panthers edge only the Red Wings (36 in 1995-96) and Flyers (36 in 1975-76) for the most home wins in a single season. in NHL history.
“It’s great,” Giroux said. “We go into games with a lot of confidence. I feel like after every win we tell ourselves that we know we can play better. Everything is going well right now. We’re getting rebounds, guys are making plays and we We’re having fun. We just gotta keep going.