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Ed Belfour won his sixth consecutive game against the Canadiens in spectacular fashion. Belfour was beaten only once on 33 shots and made 15 first period saves to keep the Panthers in a game which they did not belong, much like Cristobal Huet has done for the Canadiens on many nights this season and last. Belfour stopped Guillaume Latendresse on two breakaways during the first period.
The Panthers opened the scoring at 2:54 when Craig Rivet made a blunder behind the goal line allowing Chris Gratton to place the puck on a silver platter for Ville Peltonen who was left all alone in the slot. With slightly more then 5 minutes remaining in the 1st period Saku Koivu caused a turnover allowing Chris Higgins and Mark Streit to break in on a two on one. Higgins shot was stopped but Streit knocked in the rebound notching the game at one.
The Canadiens controlled the play in the second period as well but it was played much more conservatively by the Panthers who cut down on the number of odd man rushes the Canadiens were given. At 5:59 of the second period Michael Ryder fanned on clearing the puck out of the zone, Branislav Mezei kept the puck in and Gary Roberts dropped the puck to Nathan Horton who roofed his 14th of the season over Huet’s right shoulder. Less than four minutes later Gregory Campbell’s’ wrap around trickled through Huet’s pads and from that point on Jacques Martin had the Panther’s play a great trap which prevented the Canadiens from creating any offence in the final 10 minutes .
Neither team converted on their four power plays throughout the evening, as both teams penalty kills did a superb job to preventing scoring chances for either team, and when a scoring chance was allowed both goalies were their to bail their teams out.
Game Notes: Janne Niinimaa and Aaron Downey were healthy scratches for the Canadiens. Steve Begin remains out with a rib injury. The Panthers “sold out” their second game of the season with many of the attendees wearing the Canadiens blue blanc et rouge. Stephen Weiss remains on the injured reserve despite declaring himself fit to play more than a couple of days ago.
1. Ed Belfour- if three stars were not mandatory there would have been just one on this night Belfour stole the show.
2. Nathan Horton- scored the game winning goal.
3. Gregory Campbell- one goal, +1, four shots and played great on the penalty kill.
1. It is not 5 consecutive game where the Canadiens have not score twice against the Panthers.
2. With a -2 rating tonight Michael Ryder now is a team worst -9 on the season.
3. This is the first time this season that Huet has lost two of three starts.
4. The Canadiens record is now 3-4-2 in games where they fail to score on the power play.