Michael Ryder scored his second overtime goal of the season with the man advantage, leading Montreal to a 5-4 victory over the Panthers on Tuesday night.
Canadiens center Steve Begin scored a power-play goal with 8.1 seconds left in regulation to tie it at 4. Ryder, who scored the overtime winner in the team's season-opening road win against the Rangers on Oct. 6, one-timed Saku Koivu's pass beyond Montreal native Roberto Luongo 3:19 into the extra period.
"Tonight, luckily - very, very luckily - we came through with a big win, but I wouldn't want to be getting into that every night," said Canadiens defenseman Craig Rivet, who scored the first of Montreal's four power-play goals in 10 opportunities.
Stephen Weiss scored a pair of third-period goals with the man advantage to give the Panthers a 4-3 lead, their first of the game. Florida went 2-for-9 on power plays.
"We're disappointed," Weiss said. "We wanted two points. Getting a point is OK, but we had the lead with 4 minutes left and we should have come out with two points, so we've got to find a way to do that."
Referees Stephane Auger and Dan O'Halloran called a total of 19 minors, including eight in the third period.
Panthers center Chris Gratton, who was called for tripping 2:12 into overtime, was assessed a 10-minute gross misconduct following Ryder's goal.
"There were some questionable calls on both sides, for Montreal and for us, but at that point of the game, I mean, it's a joke," Gratton said.
Gratton was displeased with Auger, who whistled him for the tripping and gross misconduct infractions.
"He did the same thing at Pittsburgh a week ago," Gratton said. "It's the same ref. I don't know, we're not supposed to complain about the (officiating), but it's something that should be looked at. The same guy, every time. It's embarassing and hopefully they fix it. There were some questionable calls on both sides tonight and unfortunately they just happened to make one in overtime."
Francis Bouillon also scored a power-play goal, and Richard Zednik scored at even strength for Northeast Division-leading Montreal. Jose Theodore won for the second straight night, and Koivu had three assists as Montreal took over sole possession of first overall in the Eastern Conference with 19 points.
Luongo made 33 saves, including a sensational pad stop on Zednik with the Canadiens on the power play with just over 1 minute left in the third.
Trailing 3-1, Florida came back and tied it on Nathan Horton's goal late in the second and Weiss' power-play score midway through the third.
While Weiss' first goal came just after the first of two Montreal penalties had expired on a five-on-three advantage, his second of the period came during another five-on-three and gave the Panthers their first lead of the game at 15:25.
"Penalties, I think that's the new NHL," Rivet said. "It's very, very frustrating at times, like it was tonight, but we've had nights ourselves where it's been the opposite."
Martin Gelinas also scored for Florida, which lost 2-1 in Toronto one night earlier.
With Gelinas in the penalty box and Theodore on the bench for an extra attacker, Begin put a rebound of Rivet's point shot past Luongo, bringing on a thunderous cheer from the sellout crowd of 21,273.
Rivet opened the scoring 2:28 in with his first of the season, beating Luongo with a shot from the left point with 14 seconds remaining in Montreal's first power-play opportunity.
Zednik, who returned from a groin strain Thursday in Ottawa, made it 2-0 on the Canadiens' sixth shot against Luongo.
With Montreal enjoying an 11-1 margin in shots, the Panthers suddenly jumped back in the game at 15:26 with a goal off a pair of shots in quick succession. Theodore stopped Hill's slap shot from the right point but Gelinas jumped on the rebound and scored his fourth of the season to draw Florida within 2-1.
Bouillon restored the Canadiens' two-goal lead early in the second, making it 3-1 with his first of the year at 2:05.
Notes: The Canadiens wore vintage jerseys, replicas of an earlier version of their white sweaters featuring the familiar blue band from their red uniform. ... Panthers C Joe Nieuwendyk missed his sixth straight game because of back spasms. ... Canadiens C Radek Bonk was out of the lineup for a second straight game. Bonk strained his groin in practice Monday and didn't play in Montreal's 4-1 win in New York. ... Montreal has sold out each of its seven games at the Bell Centre.
|PPG - Craig Rivet (1) ASST: Mike Ribeiro (4), Andrei Markov (3)|
1 - 0 MTL
|Richard Zednik (2) ASST: Saku Koivu (8), Alex Kovalev (9)|
2 - 0 MTL
|Martin Gelinas (4) ASST: Sean Hill (5), Jay Bouwmeester (3)|
2 - 1 MTL
|PPG - Francis Bouillon (1) ASST: Michael Ryder (4), Mike Ribeiro (5)|
3 - 1 MTL
|Nathan Horton (7) ASST: Branislav Mezei (1), Gary Roberts (1)|
3 - 2 MTL
|PPG - Stephen Weiss (2) ASST: Mike Van Ryn (8), Olli Jokinen (8)|
3 - 3 Tie
|PPG - Stephen Weiss (3) ASST: Nathan Horton (3), Olli Jokinen (9)|
4 - 3 FLA
|PPG - Steve Begin (5) ASST: Saku Koivu (9), Craig Rivet (3)|
4 - 4 Tie
|PPG - Michael Ryder (6) ASST: Saku Koivu (10), Andrei Markov (4)|
5 - 4 MTL
|Power Play %||16.3%||16.5%|
|% on Road||15.9%||10.7%|
|% at Home||16.5%||22.1%|
|Sean Hill Holding against Mike Ribeiro|
|Michael Ryder Interference against Kristian Huselius|
|Mike Van Ryn Holding against Mike Ribeiro|
|Lukas Krajicek Tripping against Richard Zednik|
|Martin Gelinas Holding against Saku Koivu|
|Olli Jokinen Cross checking against Saku Koivu|
|Chris Higgins Interference against Chris Gratton|
|Mike Komisarek Holding against Anthony Stewart|
|Nathan Horton Interference on goalkeeper against Jose Theodore|
|Niklas Sundstrom Hooking against Joel Kwiatkowski|
|Lukas Krajicek Hi-sticking|
|Francis Bouillon Tripping against Gary Roberts|
|Alex Kovalev Hooking|
|Jan Bulis Hooking against Martin Gelinas|
|Branislav Mezei Hooking against Pierre Dagenais|
|Alex Kovalev Interference against Jay Bouwmeester|
|Michael Ryder Elbowing against Kristian Huselius|
|Martin Gelinas Interference against Richard Zednik|
|Chris Gratton Tripping against Francis Bouillon|
|Chris Gratton Gross misconduct|