Max Pacioretty established a career high with his 34th and 35th goals of the season to lead the Canadiens to a 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers Saturday at the BB&T Center. It was the fifth consecutive win for the Canadiens, who maintained their tenuous hold on second place in the Atlantic Division. The Canadiens have 93 points for a two-point edge over Tampa Bay but the Lightning has two games in hand. The Canadiens and the Lightning meet Tuesday night in Tampa. If at first: Thomas Vanek opened the scoring at 10:47 of the first period with a strong second effort. Dan Ellis stopped Vanek’s original shot but he left a rebound and Vanek banged it home. It was his 27th goal of the season and his sixth as a Canadien. He also assisted on Pacioretty’s second goal and has two goals and four assists in the last three games. Power to the Max: The Canadiens went 0-for-5 on the power play but Pacioretty’s 34th goal of the season at 17:03 of the first period came one second after the expiration of a slashing penalty to Erik Gudbranson. Daniel Brière found Alexei Emelin pinching in on a backdoor play and the defenceman alertly slid the puck through the crease to Pacioretty. Pacioretty made it 3-0 when he scored at the 14-minute mark of the second period with linemate David Desharnais doing the heavy lifting on the play. He was falling to the ice when he found Pacioretty at the side of the net. Killer defence: Florida went 0-for-4 against the Canadiens’ penalty-killing unit, which ranks third in the NHL. The Canadiens were perfect despite the absence of Tomas Plekanec, who is in Montreal attending to a family matter. Panthers roar: Florida put the pressure on the Canadiens over the final two periods, outshooting Montreal 27-8 for an overall edge of 37-18. But the only shot to get past Carey Price came at 16:09 of the second period when Brad Boyes tucked a shot under the crossbar on the goalie’s glove side.
Pacioretty leads Habs over Panthers
Montreal Gazette | Mar 30