Ekblad snaps stick on goal, Panthers top Canadiens 4-3 in OT

MONTREAL (AP) — It took two broken sticks and a bad deflection for the Florida Panthers to beat Montreal and goalie Carey Price on Tuesday night.

Aaron Ekblad snapped his stick on an awkward slap shot that sneaked by Price in overtime, helping Florida beat the NHL-leading Canadiens 4-3.

Price sought his 11th straight win, which would have matched George Hainsworth’s 1927 record for a single-season winning streak by a Habs goaltender.

Instead, some bad luck in overtime handed Montreal its first home loss of the season after starting the year 10-0-0 at the Bell Centre.

First, Alex Galchenyuk cracked his stick and had to sprint to the bench for a replacement.

While he did, Ekblad wound for a shot from the right hash marks, but his stick splintered on the attempt and the puck trickled toward the net. It deflected off the boot of defenseman Nathan Beaulieu before sliding past Price 2:59 into OT.

“What can you do?” Beaulieu said. “It was a lucky one. The hockey gods didn’t want us to win tonight.”

Alex Petrovic, Kyle Rau and Denis Malgin scored for the Panthers, and Roberto Luongo made 34 saves.

“It was a funny night,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. “There were some funny goals. We just talk about putting pucks to the net and getting people going there. Sometimes you get the lucky breaks and the lucky bounces. To get four by Carey is not easy to do.”

Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais and Paul Byron had goals for Montreal, which is in its first two-game winless streak this season. Price made 20 saves in his first loss of the season.

The loss was Montreal’s first when scoring the first goal of the game (12-0-1).

Price allowed more than two goals in a game for just the second time this season.

Montreal trailed 3-2 entering the third period, but Byron got his team-leading sixth goal 5:46 in. Luongo stopped an initial shot by Brendan Gallagher from a tight angle, but the puck squeaked through his pads to Byron for a tap-in.

Alex Galchenyuk assisted on that goal and extended his point streak to six games.

Pacioretty scored on a power play 2:12 into the game, but then Petrovic tied it less than three minutes later following an ugly giveaway by Philip Danault.

Rookie defenseman Michael Matheson — a Montreal native playing his first game at the Bell Centre — set up Rau’s score. Matheson fed Rau in the slot with a no-look, between-the-legs pass, and Rau finished to make it 2-1 with 4:38 left in the first.

“I felt three or four guys around me, so I thought someone has to be open,” Matheson said. “I knew we were changing, so I just tried to apply some pressure. I ended up keeping the puck down low for a little bit. I was just trying to buy some time.”

Desharnais recorded an assist on Pacioretty’s goal for his first point in 12 games. In the second period, Desharnais scored his first goal since the team’s home opener on Oct. 18 — blocker side on Luongo from in close at 4:22 to tie it at 2.

Malgin beat Price late in the second with a weak shot from far out that took a strange deflection off defenseman Jeff Petry.

NOTES: Montreal F Alexander Radulov missed the game due to illness. That meant winger Chris Terry made his season debut for the Habs. … D Joel Hanley was a healthy scratch for Montreal. Greg Pateryn was back in the lineup as a result. … The Canadiens have outscored their opponents 40-16 at home this season.

UP NEXT

Panthers: At Toronto on Thursday night in the second game of a four-game trip.

Canadiens: At Carolina on Friday night.

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