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game recap

Barkov gets hat trick, Panthers hand Canadiens fourth straight loss

Montreal drops into second wild card in East; Florida 8-4-0 in past 12 games

by Alain Poupart / NHL.com Correspondent

Barkov's second career hat trick

MTL@FLA: Barkov powers Panthers with second NHL hatty

Aleksander Barkov tallies in each period, including a sensational between-the-legs goal, to record his second career hat trick in a 6-3 win

  • 01:20 •

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Aleksander Barkov had a hat trick and an assist, and the Florida Panthers handed the Montreal Canadiens their fourth straight loss with a 6-3 win at BB&T Center on Sunday.

Barkov scored the game-winning goal at 17:45 of the second period when he moved the puck backward between his legs, then flicked a high shot with the puck behind his left skate to give the Panthers a 4-3 lead.

"Those are nice goals," Barkov said. "I think I've tried that like 17 times in my career; it worked [for] the first time, so I'm kind of happy. But more importantly, we got the two points.

 

[WATCH: All Canadiens vs. Panthers highlights]

 

"I've seen those [types of goals] in the YouTube and in highlights, and I was just dreaming about maybe one day I can score that kind of goal. It happened tonight, and of course I'm happy."

Max Domi had two goals and Brendan Gallagher also scored for Montreal (31-21-7), which dropped into the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. The Canadiens have lost three in a row in regulation for the first time this season, and their four-game skid matches a season high.

Video: MTL@FLA: Malgin lights the lamp off deflected wrister

Antti Niemi was pulled after giving up three goals on nine shots in the first 13:57 and was replaced by Carey Price, who made 24 saves.

"Gotta be better," Domi said. "Next game is absolutely huge. We've got to start winning some hockey games here. We know what we have to do.

"We're going to stick together as a group. We've got confidence in one another. [If] we work hard and we push each other and hold each other accountable, we'll be fine."

Denis Malgin, Frank Vatrano and Riley Sheahan also scored for Florida (25-24-8), which is 8-4-0 in its past 12 games. James Reimer made 28 saves in his second consecutive start.

"I liked our start, but after the first 10 minutes we looked at the score 3-1 and thought it was going to be easy," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. "That's a team that's fighting for their life. It was a good lesson to learn and we stayed composed the second period."

Barkov gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead at 3:59 of the first period with a power-play goal after Niemi made a save on Keith Yandle's shot from the point.

After Malgin made it 2-0 at 11:28, Domi scored his first goal at 13:04 when Tomas Tatar stripped Mike Hoffman in the Panthers zone and sent Domi on a breakaway.

Vatrano's 20th goal of the season made it 3-1 at 13:57 when his shot from close range deflected off Shea Weber's skate. Niemi was pulled for Price after the goal.

Niemi made an NHL career-high 52 saves in Montreal's 5-1 win against Florida on Jan. 15 at Bell Centre.

"It's one of those nights where it happens to every goalie," Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. "It's tough. It was tough on him tonight early in the game. Sometimes those things just happen.

"It's my job to make a decision, and I thought that by bringing (Price) back in, it would give us an opportunity to get back in the game, which we did. But we didn't finish what we started."

Gallagher made it 3-2 at 16:46 with a wrist shot off a 2-on-1 before Domi tied the score 3-3 at 5:18 of the second period when he redirected Mike Reilly's pass.

Barkov made it 5-3 at 9:13 of the third period to match his NHL career high with four points.

"Every team's got those guys," Canadiens defenseman Jordie Benn said of Barkov. "He's their team's special player. He's a big boy that can put the puck in the net. He had a pretty good night. We got the short end of the stick."

Sheahan scored an empty-net goal with 2:25 left for the 6-3 final.

Video: Enterprise Hat Trick: Barkov nets trio for Panthers

 

They said it

"We're going through a tough time right now. I call it a slump and we're fighting the puck and nothing seems to be smooth right now, so we've got to work on finding that. It's as simple as that." -- Canadiens coach Claude Julien

 

"Obviously this is a good stretch at home and we just have to keep going. We're far from the playoffs, but we just have to keep winning and see what's going to happen." -- Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau

 

Need to know

Montreal forward Jonathan Drouin was held without a point for a fourth consecutive game and was minus-3. … Barkov got his first NHL hat trick earlier this season in a 4-3 overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Dec. 15. … Huberdeau had a goal overturned at 3:44 of the third period after the Canadiens successfully challenged that Florida was offside. … Huberdeau's assist on Vatrano's goal made him the second player in Panthers history to have 40 assists in consecutive seasons (Olli Jokinen, 2005-06 and 2006-07).

 

What's next

Canadiens: Host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN2, RDS, FS-O, NHL.TV)

Panthers: Host the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; FS-F, MSG-B, NHL.TV)

Video: Barkov's hat trick propels Panthers past Habs, 6-3

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