SUNRISE, Fla. - Tomas Fleischmann scored two goals, including an empty-netter with 40.2 seconds remaining that ended up being the game-winner as the Florida Panthers beat the Montreal Canadiens, 3-2, on Saturday night.
Panthers goaltender Scott Clemmensen bounced back from his worst outing of the season the night before against the New York Rangers by stopping 17 of Montreal's last 18 shots. He replaced Jose Theodore 4:16 into the second period after Theodore left with a lower body injury.
The Canadiens struck first at the 5:37 mark of the first period when Travis Moen blasted a slapshot from the left circle 47 feet out past Theodore off assists from Lars Eller and Tomas Kaberle.
Fleischmann tied the game with a power-play goal 3:46 into the second period off assists from Stephen Weiss and Brian Campbell, and Shawn Matthias broke the tie 3:08 into the third with his seventh goal of the season.
After Fleischmann's empty-netter appeared to seal the victory, Montreal's Erik Cole made it a one-goal game at the 19:30 mark off assists from Yannick Weber David Desharnais.
Clemmensen turned away another Moen shot with 14 seconds left and then got help when Mike Weaver and Weiss blocked shots in the closing seconds.
Montreal lost its second straight game, both in the Sunshine State, and goaltender Carey Price dropped to 13-14-7 on the season with the loss as he surrendered three goals on 35 shots.
These two soon-to-be division rivals went at it hard on both ends of the ice with chippy play from both sides. The second period ended with a scrum in front of the Panthers' net that resulted in double minor penalties for Florida's Erik Gudbranson and Montreal's P.K. Subban for slashing and roughing. Panthers enforcer Krys Barch was also given a 10-minute game misconduct.
Florida maintained its four-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets, 3-2 winners over Toronto, in the Southeast Division and stayed five points ahead of the Washington Capitals.
NOTES: With his assist on Fleischmann's tying goal Weiss tied Olli Jokinen for the most assists all-time in Panthers history with 231. . Fleischmann has scored three goals in two meetings with the Canadiens this season. . Florida finished the month of December 5-2-1 on home ice. . The crowd of 20,098 was the third largest crowd of the season. . The Canadiens continue to struggle on the road as they fell to 9-11-1 away from home and are now 0-2 against the Panthers this season.