NHL Game Summary - Montreal at Florida
(Monday, December 29th)
Final Score: Montreal 5, Florida 2
Sunrise, FL (Sports Network) - Maxim Lapierre notched the first hat trick of his career, propelling the Montreal Canadiens to a 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center.
Alex Kovalev and Tomas Plekanec also tallied for the Canadiens, who are 4-0-1 over their last five games. Carey Price turned in another quality performance between the pipes, stopping 26 shots. A first round pick in 2005, Price has gone 11 straight starts (7-0-4) without a regulation loss.
Michael Frolik and David Booth each had a goal for the Panthers, who have dropped three games in a row and five of seven overall.
Craig Anderson, who entered Monday ranked first in the NHL with a .941 save percentage and fourth with a 2.09 goals-against average, allowed four goals on 20 shots before he was yanked early in the third period. Tomas Vokoun made eight saves the rest of the way.
Florida drew first blood on Frolik's sixth goal of the season.
The 10th overall selection in the 2006 draft, Frolik faked the slap shot and drifted into the left faceoff circle. With Brett McLean driving hard down the slot, the youngster fired a wrister underneath the pads of Price, who was anticipating a pass, 5:18 into the contest.
The Canadiens responded near the midway point of the first period on the power play.
Montreal was awarded a two-man advantage for 54 seconds and Kovalev tied the score with 9:33 remaining. The veteran forward held the puck at the right side of the net and his intended pass to Alex Tanguay at the top of the crease caromed off Florida defenseman Karlis Skrastins' left skate and slid between Anderson's legs and across the goal line.
Plekanec gave the visitors the lead with a short-handed tally. He blazed down the ice, splitting the defense in the process, to catch up to a loose puck and snapped a wrister high over the right shoulder of Anderson at 1:30 of the second period.
Booth's team-best 15th goal of the season evened the score at 6:49, but Lapierre restored the lead for Montreal with 3:59 left in the middle stanza. From behind the net, Lapierre came around the far post and lifted a backhander past a stretched-out Anderson.
Lapierre gave the Canadiens a two-goal edge, accepting a drop pass from Guillaume Latendresse and snapping a wrister inside the left circle that beat Anderson on the glove side at the 2:40 mark of the third period, and added an empty-net short-handed goal in the waning seconds.
Kovalev has four goals over his last six games after netting zero over the previous 19...Montreal has won four straight against the Panthers...Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges appeared in his 200th career game...Montreal earned its NHL-best 3,000th regular-season win.
12/30 00:04:46 ET