Canadiens’ Carey Price makes one of his 35 saves on Wednesday night as the Panthers’ Brett McLean tries to distract the goaltender. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Updated by The Gazette’s Kevin Mio
It took a lucky bounce to get them going, but the Canadiens were able to overcome some poor play to end a three-game losing streak with a 2-1 overtime win against the Florida Panthers on Wednesday night.
Alex Kovalev was the hero in the extra period with a precise wrist shot that baffled Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun as the Habs were able to salvage their trip to the Sunshine State. With the win, Montreal improved its overtime record to 4-4 on the season and outshot the Panthers 5-0 in overtime and 37-36 overall.
Vokoun had been perfect for much of the game, stonewalling the Canadiens’ offence until he bobbled the puck off a faceoff 12 minutes into the third period. That allowed Christopher Higgins to beat a Panthers’ defenceman to the puck and knock it into a wide-open net to tie the game at 1-1. It’s the second straight game with goals for Higgins, who had been in a deep slump before breaking the ice in Tampa Bay on Tuesday night.
Before the Higgins goal, things didn’t look good for the Canadiens as they were unable to get anything going, especially on the power play, which was 0-for-5 in regulation. The Panthers also outshot the Habs 36-32 after regulation time.
Carey Price was suberb in nets for the Canadiens, stopping all but one of the shots he faced. The only one to beat Price was a Steve Montador shot from the point that went off Andrei Markov’s glove.
The Canadiens were unable to muster much offensively in the first period, with their only real chances coming toward the end of the period. The first came when Andrei Markov broke in alone on Tomas Vokoun with less than two minutes to play after taking a pass from Saku Koivu. The captain assisted on both Montreal goals.
There was no scoring in the second period, but Koivu had a chance to tie the game 1-1 on a shorthanded breakaway with five minutes to go in the second period, but his shot was blocked easily by Vokoun.
The Canadiens return home for a game on Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers and then travel to Philly for a rematch on Sunday night.