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5 Takeaways: Montembeault Makes 42 Saves as Panthers Fall in SO

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

9/19/19 Post Game Interviews

9/19/19 Post Game Interviews

Interviews with Head Coach Joel Quenneville, forward Owen Tippett and goaltender Sam Montembeault

  • 01:05 •

The pace of the preseason is starting to pick up.

In the second half of their back-to-back set with the Montreal Canadiens, the Florida Panthers came up just short in a 5-4 shootout loss at Bell Centre to close out their four-game road trip.

"I thought today's game was the fastest game we've seen," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. "Montreal really can skate, and they had us in our end for stretches in the game. I thought we battled hard in the third period. I thought we had a good start to the game. We didn't have the puck as much as we would like, but certainly some guys did well. You're starting to see the pace pick up here as we go along in camp. That's what we've got to get to."

Jordan Weal opened the scoring tonight, finding the back of the net just 1:01 after puck drop to give the Canadiens an early 1-0 lead. Later in the period, rookie Owen Tippett answered for the Panthers, beating goaltender Carey Price with a top-shelf snipe to tie the game 1-1 at 14:42.

"Tippy had a heck of a shot," Quenneville said, "and did some other good things as well."

In the second period, the Panthers jumped out to a quick 3-1 lead on goals from Anthony Greco and Jonathan Ang, who both suited up for the club's AHL affiliate last season, at 1:36 and 2:49, respectively. Montreal, however, would answer right back with three unanswered goals to take a 4-3 lead heading into the second intermission, including two scores from Brendan Gallagher.

After a high-sticking penalty from Max Domi sent the Panthers to the power play, Brett Connolly went on to score the lone goal of the third period, beating Price with a tap-in from the doorstep while on the man advantage to make it 4-4 at 10:10 and eventually get the game to overtime.

Florida finished 1-for-3 on the power play, while Montreal went 0-for-2.

The Panthers also improved to 15-for-15 on the penalty kill through four preseason games.

With no scores in the extra frame, the game then went to a shootout. In the skills competition, Phil Varone beat Sam Montembeault in the third round to secure the 5-4 victory for Montreal.

Price finished with 14 saves on 18 shots; Montembeault denied 42 of 46.

"I thought Sammy was good in the net there," said Quenneville, who is entering his first season behind Florida's bench. "He had some big saves he had to make at critical times in the game."

The Panthers will continue their preseason on Saturday against the Dallas Stars at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla.

Here are five takeaways from Thursday's shootout loss in Montreal…

1. NO TIME TO BE TIRED

Tired? No thanks.

Taking the ice twice in a 24-hour span, Tippett, who also suited up Wednesday night in the first game of the back-to-back, showed no signs of fatigue in Montreal early on tonight, beating Price with a stick-side snipe from the right circle to make it a 1-1 game at 14:42 of the opening frame. 

Video: FLA@MTL: Tippett wires home wrister on the rush

"It was a quick turnaround, obviously with yesterday and going to New Brunswick," Tippet said. "You just kind of have to build off the energy in a building like this and just keep going."

Making the jump to the pro ranks this season, the 20-year-old sniper racked up 33 goals and a career-high 41 assists in 54-regular games split between Mississauga and Saginaw during his final OHL season in 2018-19. Leading Saginaw to the semifinals of the OHL playoffs, the former 10th-overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft registered 11 goals and 22 points during the postseason.

"I think I've had a pretty good week overall," Tippett said. "My goal is to get better each and every day, and I think I did that. We'll go from here, and my goal's going to stay the same."

Tippett, who skated 11:15 against the Canadiens, previously made Florida's Opening Night roster in 2017-18 as a rookie, scoring one goal in seven games before going back to juniors.

"Anytime you get to spend time up here around pros like this, it shows you how to be a pro each and every day," Tippet said. "That's how I'm going to take it in, just to get better each and every day."

2. COMING OUT FLYING

Florida came out flying in the second period, and it was one its fastest skaters that led the way.

After intercepting a pass in the offensive zone with some nice forechecking, Greco, who set the fastest skater record during the 2019 AHL All-Star Skills Competition in January, snapped in a wrist shot from the slot that beat Price to put the Panthers up 2-1 just 1:36 into the middle frame.

Video: FLA@MTL: Greco forces turnover, nets quick wrister

Heading into his fourth season with the organization, the 25-year-old speedster made his NHL debut with the Panthers in 2018-19, firing off two shots while seeing 9:30 of ice time in a loss at Minnesota on Dec. 13, 2018. He also led the team's AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds, in scoring with career-high marks in goals (30), assists (29) and points (59) in 75 games played.

In Montreal, Greco ranked second on the Panthers with three shots on goal in 14:32 of ice time.

3. NEED FOR SPEED

You know who else has a nice set of wheels? Ang.

Just over a minute after Greco's goal, Ang turned on his own jets, speeding past a pair of defenders before taking a pass from Joel Lowry and skating in on the net all alone. With no one but the goalie to beat, he slipped the puck through Price's legs to put the Panthers ahead 3-1 at 2:49.

Video: FLA@MTL: Lowry connects with Ang for breakaway tally

A fourth-round pick in the 2016 draft, the 21-year-old forward is still searching for his NHL debut as he enters his second professional season. Playing in 75 games with AHL Springfield in 2018-19, he notched five goals and 20 assists. Of those five goals, one came while on the penalty kill.

Ang skated 11:30 against the Canadiens, including 1:55 on the power play.

4. BRETT'S BACK AT IT

Two preseason games, two goals for the new guy.

After lighting the lamp in his debut in Nashville on Monday, Connolly, who inked a four-year deal with Florida on July 1, found the back of the net once again, re-directing a long slap pass from Vincent Trocheck into the net on the power play to tie the game 4-4 at 10:10 of the third period.

Video: FLA@MTL: Connolly taps in equalizer on the power play

Prior to joining the Panthers, the 27-year-old veteran forward spent the previous three seasons in Washington, where he won a Stanley Cup in 2018. Seeing his numbers go up in each year he played with the Capitals, he set new career-highs in both goals (22) and points (46) in 2018-19.

And while he lit the lamp with the man advantage in Montreal, the most-intriguing part about Connolly's game is his work at even-strength, where he scored 21 of his 22 goals last season.

A potential line this season, Connolly lined up alongside Trocheck and Frank Vatrano tonight.

"Troch's line made a nice play on the power play," Quenneville said.

5. SAVES FOR SAM

Montembeault saw plenty of action tonight.

Making his second appearance of the preseason, the 22-year-old goaltender made 42 saves - including 38 at even-strength - to help the Panthers escape with a preseason point and reach overtime. In his preseason debut against the Predators on Monday, he stopped 18 of 19 shots.

Montembeault, a third-round pick in 2015, made his NHL debut last season and competed in 11 games with the Panthers. He posted a 4-3-2 record with a 3.05 goals-against average and .894 save percentage. The most shots he faced, however, was 38 -- eight fewer than he saw tonight.

"It helped a lot," Montembeault said of the shots. "I gave up a bad goal at the beginning, so to get a lot of shots after that really helps you get back in it. It was good for that. I felt comfortable."

Entering his third season in the pros, Montembeault is competing for the backup job with the Panthers behind starter Sergei Bobrovsky, who has yet to make his preseason debut thus far.

BONUS: THE HITMAN

Noel Acciari was racking up hits left and right against the Canadiens.

After registering 373 hits over the last two seasons with Boston, the tough 27-year-old forward is already living up to his reputation with the Panthers, whom he joined on a three-year contract on July 1. Tonight, in fact, he threw the body to the tune of a game-high seven hits in 17:40 of ice time.

Over the past two seasons, he ranks tied for 16th among NHL regulars in hits per game (2.8).

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