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game recap

Tkachuk has hat trick, assist for Panthers in win against Canadiens

Forward reaches 100 points for Florida, which keeps pace in East wild card race

by Sean Farrell / Independent Correspondent

Recap: FLA 5, MTL 2

Tkachuck earns a hat trick in Panthers 5-2 win

Matthew Tkachuck tallied three for a hat trick, Anton Lundell scored two, leading the Panthers to a 5-2 win over the Canadiens

  • 04:55 •

MONTREAL -- Matthew Tkachuk had a hat trick and an assist to reach 100 points for the second straight season, and the Florida Panthers won 5-2 against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Thursday.

Anton Lundell scored twice and had an assist for Florida (38-31-7), which remained one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. The Penguins, who won 2-0 against the Nashville Predators on Thursday, have one game in hand.

"We know where we're at right now, so we know how important these two points are each and every night," Tkachuk said.

The Panthers have won back-to-back games after they rallied for a 5-4 overtime victory at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

"You know there were parts of our game we didn't care for much last night, [but] we kind of found a way to win," Florida coach Paul Maurice said. "But I thought we were good, solid and simple here tonight on a back to back. We kind of corrected some of the things that we didn't do well last night, we kept our game fairly straight-lined and not a lot of panic in our game. I thought we were pretty good."

Alex Lyon made 18 saves in the second of back-to-back starts. Sergei Bobrovsky is out with a non-COVID illness.

"We handled business tonight, that's what it felt like," Lyon said. "And if you want to do damage at this time of year, you have to be able to do that sometimes and really control the game. I thought tonight we controlled the game as well as since I've been up here (from the American Hockey League)."

Video: FLA@MTL: Tkachuk scores three against the Canadiens

Sean Farrell scored his first NHL goal in his home debut for Montreal (30-40-6), which is 4-10-2 in its past 16 games. Sam Montembeault made 25 saves.

"It doesn't matter how many years you play in this league, you really get excited for guys' first goals," Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher said. "It's really hard to explain. It makes you reminisce about yours. You see joy and you see excitement on their face and it's really contagious."

Farrell gave Montreal a 1-0 lead at 1:23 of the first period after he played his first NHL game Tuesday. The 21-year-old forward was "pretty surprised" that his wrist shot from the outside edge of the left face-off circle squeezed in between Lyon and the post stick side.

"I saw it take a weird bounce and it was trickling toward the net, the goalie was kind of off his angle a little bit, but I didn't think it was going to find its way all the way through," Farrell said. "I was trying to hit 'Gally' on the far side. The defenseman got a piece of it, and good bounce for me."

Lundell tied it 1-1 at 4:09 when he recovered a rebound of Eetu Luostarinen's shot and flipped the puck over Montembeault's right arm.

Tkachuk put Florida up 2-1 with a power-play goal at 3:59 of the second period. He shot past Montembeault glove side from the right side of the net to finish off Sam Reinhart's pass across the goalmouth.

Tkachuk made it 3-1 at 5:57 with his second straight goal on a shot past Montembeault stick side from the right face-off dot. His third point of the game was his 100th of the season.

Tkachuk, who had a career-high 104 points for the Calgary Flames last season, became the fourth NHL player to have consecutive 100-point seasons for two teams, joining Wayne Gretzky, Jimmy Carson and Mike Rogers.

"Wow, it's pretty cool, but that will probably be the last time I'll ever be in the same sentence as [Gretzky]," Tkachuk said.

Lundell pushed it to 4-1 at 10:15 of the third period with his second goal of the game on a shot around Montembeault's outstretched pad.

Video: FLA@MTL: Lundell takes the puck and shoots it home

Rafael Harvey-Pinard cut it to 4-2 at 18:35 when he scored a power-play goal with Montembeault pulled for an extra attacker.

Tkachuk scored into an empty net with 20 seconds remaining for the 5-2 final to complete his hat trick.

"After Sean's goal I thought we were feeling pretty good, and then it just kind of went downhill from there," Canadiens forward Nick Suzuki said. "Getting the first goal is important, we just didn't do anything with it."

NOTES: Tkachuk is the fourth United States-born player to have consecutive 100-point seasons. Jeremy Roenick had three straight for the Chicago Blackhawks from 1991-92 to 1993-94. Kevin Stevens (Pittsburgh Penguins, 1991-92 and 1992-93) and Carson (Los Angeles Kings, 1987-88, and Edmonton Oilers, 1988-89) also did it. … Gretzky had 149 points for the Oilers in 1987-88 and 168 points with the Kings in 1988-89. Carson had 107 for Los Angeles in 1987-88 and 100 with Edmonton in 1988-89, and Rogers had 105 with the Hartford Whalers in 1980-81 and 103 for the New York Rangers in 1981-82. … Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour got his 50th assist on Tkachuk's first goal of the game to become the second Florida defenseman to reach that mark. Keith Yandle had 53 in 2018-19. 

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