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Montreal finishes 2010 with a victory

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 31: Max Pacioretty  (center) is congratulated by Scott Gomez  and James Wisniewski  of the Montreal Canadiens after scoring a goal against the Florida Panthers in the second period on December 31, 2010 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

After making their second trade of the week by shipping Maxim Lapierre to the Anaheim Ducks, Montreal looked to end the road trip on a positive note. The Habs were the first to obtain scoring chances as we saw Tomas Plekanec take the first shot that was deflected by the defence. On the next shift Lars Eller made a nice pass to Benoit Pouliot who then shot it on goal prompting Tomas Vokoun to make his first save of the game. At 3:38, Plekanec received a tripping penalty to give the worst power play in the league its first opportunity in the game. Montreal killed off the penalty but Florida gained momentum and continued to attack in the Habs zone which led to Alex Auld making his first quality save of the game from a Bryan Allen shot. Plekanec helped break up the momentum by taking another good shot on Vokoun. Vokoun made a quick leg save on the shot allowing the Panthers to skate back the other way.

With Montreal applying pressure in the Panthers zone Rostislav Olesz got called for holding giving the Habs their first chance with the extra man in the game. The Habs best scoring chances on the power play came from back to back point shots from Yannick Weber and James Wisniewski followed by Max Pacioretty and Scott Gomez missing a glorious opportunity when they both failed to connect with the puck while Vokoun was on his back in the crease. Vokoun kept the puck out of the net to keep the score tied at zeroes. With the penalty now over Bryan McCabe took a point shot that Auld was ready for. After multiple broken plays in the neutral zone, Pouliot took a spin shot towards the net. The shot hit Mathieu Darche’s foot while standing in front and deflected to the far post. Vokoun made a great save with his toe to keep the puck out once again. At the other end Weber coughed the puck up behind his net giving the Panthers a chance to test Auld. Weber then made up for his gaffe when he prevented a shot on goal and cleared the puck out of danger.

At 15:32, P.K. Subban received a holding penalty while battling for the puck behind his net. Montreal killed the penalty off with ease but had to go back on the kill when Auld got called for delay of game. With the previous penalty just expiring and the Panthers re-entering the Habs zone Auld decided to try and get his teammates a line change when he decided to leave his crease and cover the puck with his trapper.  Luckily for Auld his teammates bailed him out on the second penalty kill as well. After the kill Montreal controlled the rest of the period and ended the period with a shot advantage of 9 to 6.

The Panthers wasted no time in getting the first goal in the second period when Stephan Weiss scored only 28 seconds in. Auld made the initial save on Weiss but bobbled the puck allowing Weiss to cash in the rebound to give his team the lead. Plekanec then tried to find the answering goal when he made a pass towards the Panthers crease but Vokoun read it well and snatched the puck before any Habs player could get to it. After good work from Plekanec and company the Panthers went back on the prowl when Dmitry Kulikov took back to back point shots looking for the two goal lead. Auld stopped the first shot while the second shot hit the post with the Panthers offside. On the very next face-off Kulikov got his wish when he beat Auld with his third point shot in a row. The shot hit Jeff Halpern’s stick on the way to the net allowing it to fool Auld.

After the goal Gomez tried to give the Habs a spark when he took a hard shot on Vokoun. The latter gave up a rebound but managed to clear it before a diving Pacioretty could get to it. Andrei Kostitsyn then took his turn at testing Vokoun but the Panthers goalie met him with a save as well. Florida forced another defensive breakdown in the Habs zone allowing Mike Santorelli to walk in alone on Auld. Santorelli shot the puck wide giving the puck back to Montreal. This allowed Gomez to take another shot on Vokoun this time handcuffing the goaltender. Vokoun regained control of the puck and froze it with Brian Gionta hovering around. Gionta vented a bit of his frustration by shoving a player twice his size behind the Panthers net. After the brief tussle Gomez and Gionta were seen on the bench laughing it up. On the next shift it was Jaroslav Spacek’s turn to take back to back point shots on Vokoun. Vokoun gave up a rebound on his first shot and Spacek shot his second shot wide.

At 9:05, Michael Cammalleri drew a holding penalty while heading into the Panthers zone. Cammalleri proceeded to create two great scoring chances with his shots but Plekanec and Darche respectively failed to redirect the puck into the net. Wisniewski then made sure to keep the game interesting when he blasted a bomb from the point to score his first goal in a Habs uniform.  After the power play goal the Habs kept coming by attempting two more point shots. Vokoun gave up a rebound on both shot with Darche once again missing a tap in on the second rebound. With a face-off in the Habs zone Olesz was waived off from the circle, he then decided to mouth off to the referee and was handed an unsportsmanlike penalty. On the ensuing power play, Wisnieski took yet another point shot but missed the net. The puck caromed around the back of the net finding Gomez who then found Gionta who buried it into a yawning cage.

With the game now tied both teams exchanged shots with Kostisyn being stopped by Vokoun and Radek Dvorack being stopped by Auld. With Subban already in the box for interference, Spacek got called for holding the stick giving the Panthers a brief two man advantage. Florida called a time out to try and take advantage but it did not work as Plekanec and company did more good work on the penalty kill. The Panthers then received another penalty of their own creating more room on the ice via 4 on 4. After multiple missed odd man rushes by both teams Montreal headed back to the power play to end the period. They came close in getting their first lead of the game Subban’s point shot was redirected by Cammalleri but Vokoun made the save to keep the game tied heading into the third.

The Panthers tried to duplicate their quick start from the second period in the third when Santorelli jumped on a Jason Garrison rebound forcing Auld to make his biggest save of the game. Eller missed a great opportunity of his own when he shot the puck wide while in the slot all alone. Tom Pyatt took two cracks at it but Vokoun was ready on both occasions. A little later after a brief attack from the Cats Halpern also missed on a great opportunity when he fanned on a rebound that hit the side of the net. The trend continued when Weiss also missed a wide open cage off of a bad bounce from the boards. Halpern then tried to be a factor again when he made a good pass towards Travis Moen. Moen could not get the shot off as he was standing too close to Vokoun.  

At 9:53, Kostisyn took a slashing penalty while in the offensive zone. The Panthers best chance on this power came off of a point shot with Steve Bernier standing in front. Auld tracked the puck well and made a hard save look easy. After the kill, Montreal pressed for the go ahead goal. Vokoun had to be sharp stopping Pacioretty, Pouliot and Subban in succession. Florida pushed back as well creating a chance for Allen who missed the puck in front for the second time in the game. Gomez then made another nice pass to Gionta creating another rebound that was missed by Pacioretty for another close call. Montreal continued to press but were unable to solve Vokoun with the clock running out of time.

Overtime saw the two teams feeling each other out until Plekanec broke in on a 2 on one 1 and opted to shoot the puck. After Vokoun made the save the Panthers received a 2 on 1 of their own with Chris Higgins and McCabe looking for the winner. After the Panthers failed to generate a threat from their 2 on 1 Cammalleri entered the Florida zone with a burst of speed and riffled a shot creating a rebound. Wisniewski pounced on that rebound and buried it past Vokoun for his second goal of the game giving the Habs a much needed victory to end 2010.

HiD Three Stars

  1. James Wisniewski
  2. Scott Gomez
  3. Tomas Vokoun

HiD Turning Point

After allowing two quick goals in the second, The Habs answered back with two goals of their own before period end.

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