Canadiens’ Jeff Halpern falls into Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun during Wednesday night at the Bell Centre. John Mahoney, The Gazette
• At a Glance: After giving up the first goal of the game yet again, the Canadiens didn’t give the Florida Panthers much else on Wednesday night en route to a 3-2 win at the Bell Centre. Panthers rookie Scott Timmins scored 7:30 into the first period for his first career NHL goal. The puck bounced around in front of Alex Auld before landing on Timmins’s stick for an easy tap in into the empty side of the net. Jeff Halpern got that one back for the Canadiens 4:50 into the second period when he deflected a P.K. Subban point shot beyong Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun. In the third period, Tomas Plekanec took advantage of a turnover in the neutral zone to give the Canadiens the lead. He attacked the net and his shot went off Vokoun and into the air before bouncing off a Florida defenceman and crossing the goalline 5:46 into the period. Brian Gionta scored his 19th of the season to make it 3-1 when he collected the rebound off a great rush by Max Pacioretty and banked a shot off of Vokoun and into the net at the 11:32 mark. It was Gionta’s 199th career NHL goal. Stephen Weiss scored with 2:10 to play to make it 3-2 just after the end of a Canadiens penalty and with Vokoun on the bench for an extra attacker. Alex Auld earned his first win in front of his home fans and improved to 4-2 in seven starts this season.
• What It Means: Montreal improves to 29-18-5 for 63 points, moving them into sixth place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the New York Rangers with a game in hand. Montreal now trails the Washington Capitals by a point for fifth place.
• What’s Next: The Canadiens play a pair of matinees during Super Bowl Weekend with games against the New York Rangers on Saturday and New Jersey Devils on Sunday.