Montreal, QC, Canada (4E Sports) – Jesse Winchester and Nick Bjugstad scored in the second period while Scott Clemmensen stopped 17 shots to lift the Florida Panthers to a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens Sunday at Bell Centre.
The victory was the third straight for the Panthers (12-17-5), who moved within three points of the idle Ottawa Senators for sixth place in the Atlantic Division.
Alex Galchenyuk scored a power-play goal in the third period while Peter Budaj made 23 saves for the Canadiens (20-12-3), who lost three of their last four games.
Galchenyuk’s goal snapped 0-for-16 drought over a seven-game stretch for a Canadiens power play that ranked sixth in the NHL entering the game.
However, the Canadiens’ power play failed to deliver when needed after Mike Weaver and Scottie Upshall took consecutive penalties late in the third period.
The win came with a heavy price for the Panthers as they lost defenseman Erik Gudbranson after the first period with a lower-body injury, two days after forward Jonathan Huberdeau sustained a foot injury against the Washington Capitals.
It was not immediately clear what happened to Gudbranson but he engaged Canadiens forwards Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais for the puck before he suffered the injury.
After controlling the play in a scoreless first period by outshooting the Canadiens 14-8, the Panthers opened the scoring at 4:44 of the second.
Winchester capitalized on a Montreal defensive breakdown that left him all alone in the slot, scoring his fifth goal of the season.
A few shifts later, Tomas Fleischmann found Bjugstad at the faceoff circle for a shot that fooled Budaj for his sixth of the season.
Galchenyuk made it 2-1 at 2:28 of the third period, cashing in a rebound of a Brian Gionta shot for his 10th goal of the season to make it 2-1. Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban picked up the second assist on the goal, snapping a six-game pointless streak.
The Panthers then did a good job of bottling up the Canadiens, limiting them to one shot on Clemmensen.
The Panthers’ 18 shots on goal allowed was a new season-low, and it was the fifth time in eight games the Canadiens were held to 25 shots or fewer in a game.