MONTREAL - Alex Kovalev scored the lone goal in the shootout and Carey Price made 36 stops to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers in NHL pre-season action Sunday night.
Kovalev was the final shooter and made no mistake, deking Panthers netminder Tomas Vokoun before depositing a backhand upstairs to send an announced sellout crowd of 21,273 at the Bell Centre home happy.
Andrei Kostitsyn and Yannick Weber scored in regulation for the Canadiens (4-2-0), while Anthony Stewart and Nathan Horton replied for the Panthers (2-2-2).
Price (1-0-0) played his first full game of the exhibition schedule and was solid in nets for the Canadiens, saving his best for the late stages with a spectacular glove stop on Horton in the dying seconds of regulation and a sliding save off Ville Peltonen in overtime to maintain a 2-2 tie.
Vokoun (0-1-1) was equally solid in the Panthers net, making 33 stops and limiting a very effective Canadiens power play to two goals on nine chances despite a flurry of chances.
This was the sixth game in seven nights for the Canadiens, who will be making their first cuts Monday morning. Approximately 20 players are expected to be sent back to their junior clubs or to the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs.
Many of the players in uniform Sunday night are hoping to survive Monday's cuts, and among them was the defenceman Weber who continued to show his promising skills as a puck-moving defenceman and power-play quarterback.
Weber's power-play goal to tie the game came off a great wrist shot which beat Vokoun high on the stick side, and in Friday night's 5-0 win over the Ottawa Senators he wired a laser of a slapshot from the point right past Alex Auld on a power play.
Junior-age defenceman P.K. Subban - expected to be sent back to the OHL's Belleville Bulls - received time on the Habs second power play unit, as did centre Ben Maxwell.
The Panthers' Horton had a busy night, getting into a fight with Habs defenceman Ryan O'Byrne and being foiled by Price on a penalty shot in the second in addition to his goal in the first.
Stewart opened the scoring at 3:12 of the first when he came down the right wing and beat Price with a very stoppable wrist shot to the glove side for his second of the pre-season.
Horton made it 2-0 early in the second with a power play goal off a rebound at 4:23, beating a screened Price high glove side.
Kostitsyn got Montreal on the board at 10:57 of the second with a power-play goal off a Tomas Plekanec feed for his team-leading third of the pre-season, and Weber tied it at 14:22 when Plekanec sent him in alone.
Notes: The Panthers made 17 cuts earlier Sunday, including the 10th overall pick in the 2007 draft Keaton Ellerby. He's expected to pair with Rory Fitzpatrick on the Rochester Americans' top defence pairing this season. ... Among the Panthers scratched were forwards Cory Stillman, Stephen Weiss, David Booth, Radek Dvorak, Brett McLean, Rostislav Olesz and defencemen Bryan McCabe and Bryan Allen