NHL Game Summary - Montreal at Florida
(Friday, December 29th)
Final Score: Florida 3, Montreal 1
Sunrise, FL (Sports Network) - Ed Belfour made 32 saves to post his 466th career victory, as the Florida Panthers defeated the Montreal Canadiens, 3-1, at Bank Atlantic Center.
Ville Peltonen, Nathan Horton and Greg Campbell scored for the Panthers, who have won five of their last seven outings.
"Eddie stole the show," said Panthers forward Chris Gratton. "He played great for us and kept us in the game. They had some great chances but he made some big, big saves for us and he allowed us to gain some confidence and go in the other direction and try to play a little more offense."
Mark Streit tallied, and both Chris Higgins and Saku Koivu registered assists for the Canadiens, who have lost two of their last three. Cristobal Huet stopped 25 shots in the loss.
Florida's checking line picked up the first goal of the night, just 2:54 into the contest. Peltonen one-timed Gratton's pass from behind the net over Huet's glove for a 1-0 lead. David Booth made the play happen with his work along the boards, forcing the puck in Gratton's direction.
Streit scored the equalizer at 14:43 off a 2-on-1 break. Higgins broke down the left wing and held until the top of the left circle before shooting. His initial shot was stopped by Belfour, but the rebound laid in the crease long enough for Streit to follow up and put it home.
Horton eventually broke the tie 5:59 into the third, slipping a shot from the left circle in a tiny space high on the short side. Branislav Mezei began the play, barely keeping the puck in at the blue line where Gary Roberts collected along the boards and dished to Horton.
Campbell added insurance midway through the period, his first goal in 29 games, and the Panthers clamped down defensively thereafter to pick up the win.
"It's unfortunate we had to lose that game when I thought we had more quality chances than they did," Higgins said. "Obviously Belfour played well but I thought we made him look good on a couple of occasions too. We just have to be a little more focused around the net."
Each team has won on its home ice in head-to-head matchups this season, with Florida winning twice and Montreal once...Koivu's point streak reached four games with his assist...The Panthers improve to 8-3-3 vs. the Northeast Division, and Montreal falls to 6-3-0 vs. the Southeast...Neither team scored on the power play, as each team came up empty in four attempts.
12/30 00:47:58 ET