Goldie's post-game recap:
The below zero weather outside can't cool off Ed Belfour. Here in Montreal, the Panthers played their best game of the season, beating the Canadiens 1-0. Ed Belfour saved all 29 shots picking up his 76th career shutout. He ties Tony Esposito for 8th place on the all time shutout list.
The game's only goal was scored by Jay Bouwmeester. He, along with fellow defensemen Bryan Allen, Mike Van Ryn, Ruslan Salei and Steve Montador all played strong games. Allen in particular layed several big hits and stood up at the blue line all game long. But the night belonged to the Eagle. Montreal fired 16 shots on goal in the final period but could not get one by Belfour who started his 9th game in row.
Also contributing with solid play tonight was Kamil Kreps. A 2nd round pick in 2003, the 22-year-old was strong on his skates.
Florida wins the season series vs. Montreal 3-0-1, picking up 7 of a possible 8 points. Amazingly, the Panthers allowed only 2 goals in the 4 games! Here in Montreal they lost in a shootout 1-0. 125 minutes of hockey here on the road without allowing a Canadiens goal.
Now winners of 2 in a row, a huge game looms Wednesday night at Ottawa as the Panthers go for a 3rd straight win.
Game time is 7:30pm on QAM and of course I'll be blogging...Goldie's 2nd intermission report:
Panthers scored the only goal in the period and lead 1-0 going to the 3rd. Montreal played better than it did in the first but the Cats limited scoring chances on Ed Belfour. Finaly with 3:44 to go Jay Bouwmeester flipped a loose puck past Cristobal Huet for the only goal. Olli Jokinen and Gary Roberts got assists as Bouwmeester adds to his career high in goals with 9. The Panthers have taken only 1 penalty in the game and have not allowed any odd man rushes. We have been here before on the road...a lead going into the final period. The Cats must play smart and keep the offensive pressure on Montreal to close this one out. Should be a super final 20 minutes.Goldie's 1st intermission report:
Another strong start for the Panthers who had 4 scoring chances early in the game. The best came on the power play as Mike Van Ryn's wrist shot hit the post. A few minutes later, Drew Larman got behind the Canadiens defense but Cristobal Huet stopped the Cats rookie. Huet made some good stops early to keep it scoreless. Panthers defense kept the pressure off of Ed Belfour allowing just 5 shopts on goal. Good intensity by the Cats in the first but we are scoreless after the 1st thanks to a strong effort by Heut in goal.Game Notes:
Tonight the Florida Panthers begin a brief two-game, two night road trip against the Canadiens tonight and the Ottawa Senators tomorrow night. This is the second time this season that the Cats with play Montreal and Ottawa in back to back games. Florida played at Montreal on Nov. 28 and at Ottawa on Nov. 30. Florida will return home Saturday night for a home and home series with inter-state rival Tampa Bay Lightning.
TV: FSN-Florida (Dave Strader, PxP, Denis Potvin, Color.)
Radio: 560 WQAM (Steve Goldstein, PxP, and Randy Moller, Color.)
ESPN Radio 760 AM West Palm Beach
PLAYING THE CANADIENS: Florida and Montreal will meet tonight for the fourth and final time this season. The Cats defeated Montreal 5-1 on Nov. 16. and lost in a shootout 1-0 where Alex Auld recorded his first shutout as a Panther. In the last meeting on December 29, the Panthers came away with a 3-1 victory at the BankAtlantic Center. Overall, the Panthers are 6-1-1-3 against the Canadiens over the past three seasons.
A GOAL AND AN ASSIST: Four different Florida Panthers (Olli Jokinen, Chris Gratton, Martin Gelinas, Nathan Horton) recorded two points, a goal and an assist in the Cats 5-2 win over Phoenix on Saturday. In all five different Panthers scored goals, with Gary Roberts being the fifth scorer.
Defensive Assists: Three different Panthers defensemen also recorded a point Saturday night. Bryan Allen assisted on the first Cats goal, while Mike Van Ryn assisted on the second goal, and Martin Lojek
picked up his first NHL point with an assist on the third goal.
Nathan Horton - The Cats Right winger has put together three consecutive impressive performances. Horton has three goals and two assists in his last three games with a goal in each of the last three against Colorado, Minnesota and Phoenix.
Martin Gelinas - Florida's 36-year old veteran has four goals and two assists with a plus-5 rating over his last seven games. Gelinas had two goals in the Cats 6-3 win over Washington on Feb. 1 and he had a goal and an assist in the Cats 5-2 win over Phoenix on Saturday. On Thursday night in Minnesota, Gelinas scored a goal off a cross-ice pass from Nathan Horton.
ROBS RETURNS: LW Gary Roberts returned to the Panthers line-up on Feb. 6 in Colorado after missing 12 games with a lower body injury. In his return, Roberts logged 13:19 of ice time, picking up one assist with four shots on goal and a +1 rating. Since returning against Colorado, Roberts has played in three games with a goal, an assist and a rating of plus-3.
200 GOALS: C Chris Gratton scored a goal in the Panthers 5-2 win over Phoenix Saturday night. It was Gratton's 200th career NHL goal. What made it even more special was that Gratton was played against his cousin, Josh Gratton of the Coyotes, for the first time ever.
Three's a Charm: Gratton tallied a season-high three points (1G, 2A) on Feb. 6 in Florida's 5-4 overtime loss against the Avalanche, completing the game with a +2 rating and a pair of shots on goal.
NHL DEBUT: D Martin Lojek
who was recalled from the Rochester Americans (AHL) made his NHL debut on Saturday, Feb. 3 against the Los Angeles Kings, logging 12:32 of ice time. Prior to being recalled he played in 41 games with the Amerks scoring four goals with ten assists. He became the eight different Rochester player to dress for the Panthers this season and he become the fourth different Panther to pick up his first NHL point with an assist Saturday night against Phoenix.