"We match up well with them but we always seem to be desperate when we play them. It was a fun night of hockey."
- Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell.
1. Striking First: After giving up the first goal of the game for the first time in seven games Saturday night against Detroit, the Panthers made sure to get on the board first and it was a pretty passing play by Tomas Fleischmann that set up Dmitry Kulikov 6:10 into the game. Fleischmann and Kulikov rushed up the ice with the teams playing four-on-four and Kulikov one-timed Fleischmann's cross ice pass into the wide open net and past Peter Budaj. With a lot of Canadien fans in the crowd, it gave the home side a good jolt early in the game.
2. Answering The Canadiens: Montreal would tie the game early in the second when Brandon Prust just got enough of the puck on the rebound past Scott Clemmensen as the puck slowly found the back of the net after Clemmensen got a piece of it 2:56 in but the Cats answered. The answer was huge as they did it less than two minutes later. Brian Campbell rushed up the ice and fired a shot on Budaj. Not able to get a lot of puck luck this season, this one was that as Campbell's shot kicked up and over Budaj and the netminder kicked the puck into the net. It was thought that Aleksander Barkov touched it but was changed to Campbell's goal later. Barkov wouldn't be denied a second time as he neatly redirected Tom Gilbert's shot pass past Budaj with 5:31 left in the period for a two-goal lead.
3. 60 Minute Effort: With that two goal lead, Clemmensen and the defense did the rest. The Panthers did have two goals waved off with one being waved off due to the puck being knocked down with a high stick from Brian Gionta and then another being waved off due to goaltender interference but the defense limited Montreal their chances as they finished with just 22 shots on net. Florida as a team was only credited with nine blocks so they kept th Canadiens out of the defensive zone for a lot of time and when they did get a shot on net, Clemmensen was there to kick out the rebound. Following the game, interim head coach Peter Horachek said he had asked his team for a 60-minute effort following a tough loss Saturday night to Detroit in which they might have fared better but he certainly got a great effort from them on Sunday as they snapped a three-game losing streak.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.
@teddynalle: @FlaPanthers Great game and great win guys! Makes it worth it staying up late (2 am) in Sweden.
@FlaBoi6: @FlaPanthers great team effort and getting much needed 2 points!!!! #flapanthers
@Sarah_Crenshaw: Feels so good to leave @thebbtcenter after a @FlaPanthers win!
Memorable fan posts from the game.
Maria S. Troconis: PANTHERS!! PANTHERS . You guys did GRRRRREAAATTT !! Congratulations. Keep up the good work. Play hard guys and kick butts !!
Rosa Ruiz: My present for Christmas a little late.Let's Go Cats.
Nikki Gregory Shim: Woo hoo! Awesome win Cats!
2. The Panthers had a solid offensive effort from several players but three of them picked up multiple point games. Defenseman Brian Campbell netted the game-winner and added an assist while fellow defenseman Tom Gilbert as well as forward Brad Boyes picked up two assists on the night.
3. Florida finished with a +14 as a team. Leading the way were Campbell and Boyes along with rookie center Aleksander Barkov who each finished with plus-three rating. Dylan Olsen, Sean Bergenheim and Gilbert finished with +2 on the night.
8. Barkov has slowly creeped up the NHL rookie leaders standings. Giving the Cats a 3-1 lead in the second, Barkov registered his seventh goal and 19th point on the season tied for 10th and 8th respectively. He's recorded points in three straight games and eight in the last nine games.
21. Scott Clemmensen was strong in goal, stopping 21 of the 22 shots for his fifth win of the season. The netminder has won five of his last seven meetings, including beating the Canadiens twice in a two week span.
500. Skating in 15:05 on 20 shifts, forward Tomas Kopecky played in his 500th career NHL game Sunday night.
His first goal was taken away but his goal that stood up gave the Cats a big two-goal cushion in the second period. Was on the ice for three of Florida's goals, finishing +3.
Florida will next host the New York Rangers in a New Year's Eve clash on Tuesday night. Set for a 5pm puck drop, this is the third meeting of the season between the two teams and Florida will look to pick up their first win as NY earned a 4-3 win on Nov. 10 at Madison Square Garden and then a 5-2 victory on Nov. 27 at the BB&T Center. The Rangers have recorded 38 points (18-19-2) in 39 games and play Tampa Bay Sunday night. They're led offensively by center Brad Richards (27 points in 39 games) and forward Mats Zuccarello (25 points in 38 games) while Henrik Lundqvist has posted a 10-15-2 record with a 2.77 GAA and .905 save percentage in 28 games between the pipes.