Michael Ryder scored his second overtime goal of the season with
the man advantage, leading Montreal to a 5-4 victory over the
Panthers on Tuesday night.
Canadiens center Steve Begin scored a power-play goal with 8.1
seconds left in regulation to tie it at 4. Ryder, who scored the
overtime winner in the team's season-opening road win against the
Rangers on Oct. 6, one-timed Saku Koivu's pass beyond Montreal
native Roberto Luongo 3:19 into the extra period.
"Tonight, luckily -- very, very luckily -- we came through with a
big win, but I wouldn't want to be getting into that every night,"
said Canadiens defenseman Craig Rivet, who scored the first of
Montreal's four power-play goals in 10 opportunities.
Stephen Weiss scored a pair of third-period goals with the man
advantage to give the Panthers a 4-3 lead, their first of the game.
Florida went 2-for-9 on power plays.
"We're disappointed," Weiss said. "We wanted two points.
Getting a point is OK, but we had the lead with 4 minutes left and
we should have come out with two points, so we've got to find a way
to do that."
Referees Stephane Auger and Dan O'Halloran called a total of 19
minors, including eight in the third period.
Panthers center Chris Gratton, who was called for tripping 2:12
into overtime, was assessed a 10-minute gross misconduct following
"There were some questionable calls on both sides, for Montreal
and for us, but at that point of the game, I mean, it's a joke,"
Gratton was displeased with Auger, who whistled him for the
tripping and gross misconduct infractions.
"He did the same thing at Pittsburgh a week ago," Gratton
said. "It's the same ref. I don't know, we're not supposed to
complain about the [officiating], but it's something that should be
looked at. The same guy, every time. It's embarassing and hopefully
they fix it. There were some questionable calls on both sides
tonight and unfortunately they just happened to make one in
Francis Bouillon also scored a power-play goal, and Richard
Zednik scored at even strength for Northeast Division-leading
Montreal. Jose Theodore won for the second straight night, and
Koivu had three assists as Montreal took over sole possession of
first overall in the Eastern Conference with 19 points.
Luongo made 33 saves, including a sensational pad stop on Zednik
with the Canadiens on the power play with just over 1 minute left
in the third.
Trailing 3-1, Florida came back and tied it on Nathan Horton's
goal late in the second and Weiss' power-play score midway through
While Weiss' first goal came just after the first of two
Montreal penalties had expired on a five-on-three advantage, his
second of the period came during another five-on-three and gave the
Panthers their first lead of the game at 15:25.
"Penalties, I think that's the new NHL," Rivet said. "It's
very, very frustrating at times, like it was tonight, but we've had
nights ourselves where it's been the opposite."
Martin Gelinas also scored for Florida, which lost 2-1 in
Toronto one night earlier.
With Gelinas in the penalty box and Theodore on the bench for an
extra attacker, Begin put a rebound of Rivet's point shot past
Luongo, bringing on a thunderous cheer from the sellout crowd of
Rivet opened the scoring 2:28 in with his first of the season,
beating Luongo with a shot from the left point with 14 seconds
remaining in Montreal's first power-play opportunity.
Zednik, who returned from a groin strain Thursday in Ottawa,
made it 2-0 on the Canadiens' sixth shot against Luongo.
With Montreal enjoying an 11-1 margin in shots, the Panthers
suddenly jumped back in the game at 15:26 with a goal off a pair of
shots in quick succession. Theodore stopped Hill's slap shot from
the right point but Gelinas jumped on the rebound and scored his
fourth of the season to draw Florida within 2-1.
Bouillon restored the Canadiens' two-goal lead early in the
second, making it 3-1 with his first of the year at 2:05.
The Canadiens wore vintage jerseys, replicas of an earlier
version of their white sweaters featuring the familiar blue band
from their red uniform. ... Panthers C Joe Nieuwendyk missed his
sixth straight game because of back spasms. ... Canadiens C Radek
Bonk was out of the lineup for a second straight game. Bonk
strained his groin in practice Monday and didn't play in Montreal's
4-1 win in New York. ... Montreal has sold out each of its seven
games at the Bell Centre.