The Montreal Canadiens and Florida Panthers exchanged 90 penalty minutes with the Cats prevailing 6-2.
It was another Reverse Retro game at the Bell Centre on Thursday, but the play on the ice felt like even more of a throwback. The Montreal Canadiens and Florida Panthers totalled 90 penalty minutes with the away team prevailing 6-2.
Florida scored four power play goals en route to victory. They lost starting goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in the first period, while the Habs replaced Sam Montembeault with Cayden Primeau in the third period after going down 5-0.
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Arber Xhekaj assumed the league lead in penalty minutes with a fight and a misconduct.
Early in the first, Bobrovsky suffered a lower-body injury and exited the game. Then in the final minute of the period, Mike Matheson landed a questionable hit on Eric Staal. His night was done. The officials missed the call, and they lost control from that point.
No call after this Mike Matheson reverse hit on Eric Staal (who had to leave the game).
Clean or dirty? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/PODTWduVPZ
In the second, Sam Reinhart scored the first of three consecutive power play goals for Florida. Coach Martin St. Louis challenged that it was goalie interference, but the goal stood and the Habs went back on the penalty kill.
Sam Reinhart 𝙘𝙖𝙨𝙝𝙚𝙨 in on the power play! 🤑
In the final seconds of the delay of game bench minor, Sam Bennett made it to 2-0 Panthers on the deflection.
Big night for guys named Sam on the power play pic.twitter.com/BG7cmJB15g
Then with Josh Anderson in the box for cross-checking (the liveblog commenters and Bell Centre faithful thought rugged Radko Gudas fell a little quickly), Matthew Tkachuk scored while his skate guard loosened.
Getting it done at all costs 🤝 pic.twitter.com/JRsuSfFNYe
Givani Smith jumped on the loose puck in front to give Florida a commanding 4-0 lead.
First as a Panther for Givani Smith 🙌 pic.twitter.com/VcpewllNHd
Then the Habs did a rare thing. They took a too many men penalty, then took another too many men penalty while killing off the first one. The liveblog commenters pinned the blame squarely on the coaching staff, and rightly so. The Habs were reeling. Tkachuk scored his second power play goal of the period to make it 5-0.
More extracurricular activities as the second ended. Grigory Denisenko got Xhekaj in the numbers with a hit that went uncalled, then Xhekaj and Smith were assessed 10-minute misconducts as time expired, with Gustav Forsling getting an additional cross-checking call.
Montreal opened the third period with a power play and Primeau getting his first reps of the 2022-23 season. Just as it expired, Rem Pitlick scored from a tight angle to put the home team on the board, down 5-1.
Rem inscrit les Canadiens au tableau indicateur avec son deuxième but de la saison.
Fisticuffs ensued. David Savard and Marc Staal traded shoves, with Savard getting a misconduct. Less than a minute later, Tkachuk and Matheson dropped the gloves. Bennett also got two minutes for charging Jordan Harris with his knee.
Pitlick got his second point of the night setting up Anderson just as Bennett left the box.
Une belle passe de Rem vers Andy pour son 13e but de la saison.
The Habs momentarily had a spark down three, but Ryan Lomberg put the game out reach again just over a minute later to make it 6-2.
We LOOOOOVE a Lomby goal 🔥 pic.twitter.com/53NoXaLFyR
Xhekaj and Smith left the box, and you know exactly what happened next. They dropped the gloves. Xhekaj won via unanimous decision and in his rookie season he’s making a case for heavyweight championship. Michael Pezzetta and Lomberg also dropped the gloves in a draw, blows-wise and hair-wise.
It was an ugly night for the Habs on the scoreboard, but they held their own in a rock ’em sock ’em fight night and Habs brass is probably pleased the young squad didn’t back down.
The liveblog commenters, on the other hand, heavily criticized the officiating. They also weren’t too impressed with the home team’s performance. Could Anderson challenging Gudas at the end have felt like a symbolic win? We’ll have to wait for a rematch.
Canadiens involved in three fights in third period of 6-2 loss to Panthers that included some questionable officiating at the Bell Centre.
Thankfully for the Habs they won’t be wearing their blue reverse-retro sweaters for this game.
Can the Habs make it three wins in a row?
Players have to be prevented from destroying their bodies through sheer determination to be on the ice — and teams are going to have to be more proactive to rein them in.
Rem Pitlick scored the overtime winner. Josh Anderson and Rafael Harvey-Pinard also scored.
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