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game recap

Panthers keep pace by blanking Canadiens

Tighten wild-card race; Luongo makes 40 saves for 75th NHL shutout

by Alain Poupart / NHL.com Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Roberto Luongo made 40 saves for the Florida Panthers in a 5-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens at BB&T Center on Thursday.

 

[WATCH: All Canadiens vs. Panthers highlights]

 

The Panthers (33-25-7) won their seventh home game in a row. They remained two points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference and moved within three points of the New Jersey Devils for the first wild card. Florida has three games in hand on each.

Luongo got his 75th NHL shutout with his second of the season. His best save came when he stopped defenseman Jeff Petry on a breakaway in the second period.

Video: Luongo earn Thursday's Pepsi Zero Sugar Shutout

"He's been amazing," Florida defenseman Keith Yandle said. "He's been laser-focused. He's the backbone of our team. When he's kicking the way he is, it's a fun thing to watch."

Evgenii Dadonov and Vincent Trocheck each had a goal and an assist, and Jonathan Huberdeau, Nick Bjugstad and Micheal Haley scored. Yandle had three assists and has 20 points in his past 18 games, the most for a defenseman in an 18-game span in Panthers history.

Charlie Lindgren made 27 saves for the Canadiens (25-31-11), who are 14 points behind the Blue Jackets.

"You have to live with the knocks and the bad breaks," Montreal coach Claude Julien said. "We're asking a lot of players to play bigger roles than they're ready for because we have an arm-length of injuries. A lot of those guys are impact players on our team; we all know that and we have to live with the consequences."

Video: MTL@FLA: Huberdeau buries Trocheck's feed for PPG

Huberdeau made it 1-0 at 16:16 of the first period with a power-play goal after Montreal was penalized for having too many men on the ice while on a power play.

Bjugstad made it 2-0 at 1:41 of the second period with his fourth goal in two games. Aleksander Barkov extended his point streak to a season-high eight games with an assist.

The goal came after Luongo made two saves.

"Even the guys on the bench were actually yelling, '[Luongo] should get the assist on that goal!'" Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. "They're all in it and they're all screaming when [Luongo] makes a big save like that, and excited. They know how big it is. To go down and get a goal right after that is a great momentum shift for us."

Haley made it 3-0 at 2:44 with his third goal of the season. Dadonov made it 4-0 at 1:23 of the third period to extend his streak of two-point games to five.

Paul Byron appeared to end Luongo's shutout at 3:30, but his goal was overturned after the Panthers successfully challenged for goalie interference when it was ruled Jacob de la Rose made contact with Luongo.

Trocheck made it 5-0 with a shorthanded goal at 14:56.

"We just have to build off the momentum," Luongo said. "Going into the next game you can't take it for granted. You've got to work, play the system and play hard and take advantage of the opportunities like we have been. Once we have the lead we don't look back."

Video: MTL@FLA: Trocheck slips home SHG on the rush

 

Goal of the game

Dadonov's goal at 1:23 of the third period.

Video: MTL@FLA: Dadonov nets one-timer off Yandle's feed

 

Save of the game

Luongo's save against Petry at 5:36 of the second period.

Video: MTL@FLA: Luongo gloves down Petry's breakaway attempt

 

Highlight of the game

Luongo's two saves followed by Bjugstad's goal at 1:41 of the second period.

Video: MTL@FLA: Luongo denies Drouin, Galchenyuk

 Video: MTL@FLA: Bjugstad sneaks backhander past Lindgren

 

They said it

"We are making the mistakes that leave him by himself out there. We know he's good and we know he's doing his best and we're not helping him." -- Canadiens forward Nicolas Deslauriers on goalie Charlie Lindgren giving up 11 goals in the past two games

 

"Good for [Luongo] getting another shutout. He doesn't seem to be getting any older. It's great to have in the locker room. He's a good leader as well. Having that leadership and that veteranship helps our team." -- Panthers forward Nick Bjugstad

 

Need to know

Canadiens defenseman Rinat Valiev left in the second period with a lower-body injury. Montreal recalled defenseman Brett Lernout from Laval of the American Hockey League after the game. Valiev was playing his second game for Montreal after being acquired in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs involving center Tomas Plekanec on Feb. 25. … Petry's eight shots were twice as many as any player. … Luongo, who has 36 shutouts with the Panthers, needs one to tie Tony Esposito and Ed Belfour for ninth in NHL history. Luongo had 38 shutouts with the Vancouver Canucks and one with the New York Islanders. … Trocheck won 17 of 23 faceoffs (73.9 percent).

 

What's next

Canadiens: At the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday (1 p.m., SUN, TSN2, RDS, NHL.TV)

Panthers: Host the New York Rangers on Saturday (7 p.m., FS-F, MSG, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Luongo, Panthers shut out Canadiens in 5-0 home win

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