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Panthers rally to defeat Canadiens in shootout

by Sean Farrell / NHL.com

MONTREAL -- One year ago, Roberto Luongo backed up Carey Price on Canada's gold medal-winning team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

On Thursday, four days shy of the anniversary of Canada's 3-0 win against Sweden in the Olympic final, Luongo came out on top in a shootout showdown with Price when Dave Bolland scored the winning goal in the sixth round to give the Florida Panthers a 3-2 victory against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre.

Luongo stopped five of six Canadiens in the shootout, including the final four after Max Pacioretty scored in round two.

Nick Bjugstad extended the game when he scored on Florida's third attempt against Price, who had allowed one goal in the first 12 attempts against him this season. Bolland snapped a shot past Price for the deciding goal.

"He's been unbelievable in the shootout," Luongo said. "I think he's only let in one goal before [Thursday], if I'm not mistaken, so it wasn't going to be easy and after [Pacioretty] scored the first one I wasn't sure what was going to happen. But [Bjugstad] scored a big one there to tie it up, and then I just wanted to make as many saves as I could and hopefully we could get another by him."

Florida (26-19-12) has 64 points; the Panthers are one behind the Boston Bruins for the second Eastern Conference wild-card position in the Stanley Cup Playoffs

"It definitely helps us," coach Gerard Gallant said. "I mean, it's one game, we got a big win, but it gets us that [much] closer to the spot we want to be. I mean, we're one point behind Boston now, and we're playing well and we've got three more tough games on the road trip so it's definitely a big win for us. I don't know if it's a turning point or not but we'll see when we play the next 25 games but it was definitely a huge win for us."

Luongo made 37 saves through 65 minutes, including a glove stop on Tomas Plekanec with 2:22 remaining in overtime.

"We know what's at hand and the opportunity that we have but that being said, I think Gerard is right," Luongo said. "You just want to take it one game at a time. You don't want to get overwhelmed with that kind of thing. There's a lot of work to be done ahead of us and when you think about the big picture it kind of takes the focus away of what's ahead of you, so I think we've just got to enjoy the moment, have fun, play some hockey and get some big wins."

Montreal (37-16-5), which leads the Eastern Conference, outshot Florida 39-21, including 16-7 in the second period.

"Roberto Luongo was phenomenal; he was tough to beat," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "If we didn't score more than two goals it wasn't because of a lack of effort."

Price, who made 19 saves, had a five-game winning streak end. He earned his fifth shutout of the season Monday in a 2-0 win at the Detroit Red Wings.

Montreal, which is 22-2-3 when it scores first, had six players in its lineup who have played for Hamilton of the American Hockey League this season.

"Our team worked extremely hard," Therrien said. "They certainly deserved a better result."

Florida defenseman Steven Kampfer tied it 2-2 with his first NHL goal in nearly three years at 4:57 of the third period. Panthers forward Tomas Fleischmann, who set up Kampfer's goal, scored at 11:54 of the second period. Fleischmann's shot from the deep slot struck Montreal forward Lars Eller's leg on its way past Price to end the goalie's shutout streak at 145:35.

Fleischmann got his second point of the game with an assist on Kampfer's goal two seconds after an interference penalty on Canadiens defenseman Jarred Tinordi expired.

Kampfer, who played his eighth game with the Panthers since being recalled from San Antonio of the American Hockey League, hadn't scored an NHL goal since March 24, 2012, when he had one for the Minnesota Wild in a 3-1 loss at the Buffalo Sabres.

"It was definitely a confidence-booster," Kampfer said. "I'm just trying to help the guys out here, contribute any way I can, offensively if I can, or defensively. I just want to help the team win and go forward towards the playoffs."

Montreal right wing Brendan Gallagher scored twice in the second period for a 2-0 lead.

Gallagher opened the scoring at 2:31, beating Luongo for his 100th NHL point. His second came at 10:32. It was Gallagher's second multigoal game of the season; he scored twice in a 6-4 win against the Boston Bruins on Oct. 16.

"They executed a shot, they executed a power-play play and they found a way to chip back in, but I thought we did a good job of sticking with it," Gallagher said. "It's just always when it comes down to shootouts; we've been pretty good at it but unfortunately we were on the wrong side."

Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban extended his point streak to five games with an assist on Gallagher's second goal.

The Canadiens were without defensemen Alexei Emelin and Sergei Gonchar. Emelin will miss at least a week after sustaining an upper-body injury Wednesday. Gonchar, who was placed on injured reserve Thursday, sustained an upper-body injury Saturday.

Montreal forward Alex Galchenyuk was a late scratch because of the flu.

"It's a little bit of adversity for us but it's an opportunity for guys to step up and do a job," Gallagher said.

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