(Sunrise) Martin St-Louis has spent the season teaching his players. For a while, they forgot everything.
Carter Verhaeghe scored twice in a seven-goal first-period push for the Florida Panthers and the Montreal Canadiens suffered an embarrassing 9-5 loss Thursday at FLA Live Arena.
Both teams tied an NHL record by scoring a total of 10 goals in the first period. It was only the third time in over 100 years of history that such an attacking festival had taken place in the first half.
The distribution of goals, however, was not even and the Panthers were never really worried in the last 40 minutes of play.
“You have to know how to defend yourself and tonight we forgot everything,” summarized St-Louis. We weren’t very smart on the ice defensively. »
The Panthers had already beaten the Habs twice this season, by scores of 7-2 and 6-2.
They took advantage of the Canadian’s gaps in its territory and goalkeepers Samuel Montembeault and Jake Allen were short of miracles.
Mike Matheson and Anthony Richard each had a goal and an assist, while Rem Pitlick, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Michael Pezzetta also scored for the Canadian (27-36-6).
Montembeault allowed three goals on six shots before giving way to Allen after 6:04 of play. He returned to the net at 7:33 of the second period, after Allen had conceded six goals on 18 shots. Montembeault eventually made 21 saves.
Aaron Ekblad also scored twice for the Panthers (34-27-7), while Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and three assists. Colin White, Sam Reinhart, Gustav Forsling and Ryan Lomberg also hit the mark. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 24 shots.
The Canadiens will try to redeem themselves on Saturday when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The fireworks soon began, as Matheson stunned Bobrovsky on the game’s first shot on goal 16 seconds into the game.
At the other end of the rink, White and Verhaeghe scored within 34 seconds to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead after 3:17 of play.
Richard tied the game at 5:20, but Forsling put the Panthers ahead 44 seconds later. The head coach of the Canadian, Martin St-Louis, then made a first change in front of his net in the meeting.
Pezzetta tied the game 3-3 at 8:18 on the Canadiens’ third shot, but the Panthers scored twice more before Bobrovsky made a first save in the game.
Ekblad and Lomberg moved the ropes, then Bobrovsky stopped a shot from Kaiden Guhle moments before Reinhart made it 6-3 for the home side at 12:22.
Verhaeghe returned at 13:18 and the Panthers led 7-3 after the first period.
Harvey-Pinard gave a glimmer of hope to the Canadian to recover by beating Bobrovsky after 2: 26 of play in the second period.
Again, the Panthers responded quickly with two more goals courtesy of Ekblad and Tkachuk. In turn, Allen was chased out of the Habs net, while Montembeault took over.
Montembeault played with much more confidence and made several good saves. At the other end of the ice, Bobrovsky played luck a few times, while Denis Gurianov, in particular, reached the post.
Pitlick scored on the power play 5:47 into the third period.
The rest of the engagement was a formality, apart from the dismissal of Canadian captain Nick Suzuki with 2:51 to go. Suzuki was sent back to the locker room for cross-checking Anton Lundell’s header.
Nick Suzuki spoke of an “unacceptable” performance from the Canadian.
“It was like we were playing a ball hockey game in the summer and they were playing for a playoff spot. […] The guys got up (in the locker room after the first period). We know that this kind of period cannot happen. It is not representative of the team we have been since the start of the season. »
David Savard did not want to drag on analyzing the meeting.
“I don’t have much to say. It’s a game to forget. Everything went their way except the first sequence when we scored. »
Anthony Richard admitted that things moved quickly in the first period.
“It was one of the craziest times I have witnessed. […] We were unlucky, but also soft on a lot of plays. When you’re not playing hard along the ramps, that’s what happens. »