(Montreal) Sean Farrell scored his first NHL goal, but the Canadiens lacked cohesion Thursday night at the Bell Center and couldn’t come out against an opponent who can’t afford to escape points in the standings.
Matthew Tkachuk had three goals and an assist as the Florida Panthers beat Montreal 5-2.
Farrell, who signed his first professional contract on Sunday, hit the target in his second game with the Canadiens.
He did well early in the game alongside Jake Evans and Brendan Gallagher. So much so that he was eventually promoted to the top line with Nick Suzuki and Mike Hoffman.
The rest of the evening was essentially forgettable for the Habs.
Rafaël Harvey-Pinard also scored late for the Canadiens (30-40-6), who lost their four games to the Panthers this season by a combined score of 26-11. Samuel Montembeault stopped 25 shots.
Anton Lundell had two goals and an assist for the Panthers (38-31-7), which won a second straight game. Alex Lyon made 18 saves.
The Panthers are hoping to edge out the Pittsburgh Penguins and snatch their final playoff bye in the Eastern Conference.
Defender David Savard sat out the game for the Canadiens due to a lower body injury. Chris Wideman replaced him.
The Canadiens will host the Carolina Hurricanes at the Bell Center on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Habs announced earlier Thursday that forward Kirby Dach will be out for at least a week with an upper body injury.
Dach was injured Monday against the Buffalo Sabers when he was cross-checked in the back by Peyton Krebs during overtime.
In 58 games this season, Dach has 14 goals and 24 assists.
Lyon looked bad on Farrell’s goal, scored just 1:23 into the game. The 21-year-old American simply aimed the puck at the net and it slipped between the keeper’s right leg and the post.
The Panthers responded quickly, tying the game at 4:09 of the first period. Lundell took advantage of a generous return granted by Montembeault to send the puck into the back of the net.
The rest of the period was for the Panthers, but the visitors were unable to pull away despite a 13-6 advantage on penalties.
The second period was a different story. The Panthers took advantage of their early opportunities twice to afford a two-goal cushion.
Tkachuk completed a nice rally started by Brandon Montour and Sam Reinhart on the power play at 3:59. He then moved the ropes with a precise shot at 5:57.
Montembeault then made a few good saves to give his teammates a chance to hopefully get back on track.
The Quebec goalkeeper stretched the left leg to frustrate Ryan Lomberg on a return. He was also vigilant in front of Lundell, who had escaped.
At the other end of the rink, Lyon reserved their best save for Harvey-Pinard, who had just received a fine cross pass from Hoffman.
Lundell scored the knockout blow with 9:45 left in the third period. He made fun of Montembeault after stealing the disc from Suzuki at the Canadian’s blue line.
Harvey-Pinard scored on the power play with 1:25 left on the clock, while Montembeault was replaced by an additional forward. However, it was too little too late for the Canadian.
Tkachuk completed his hat trick by scoring into an empty net with 20 seconds left.