MONTREAL (AP) — Florida looked as if it was in deep trouble when it fell behind 2-0 in the second period while being badly outshot by the Montreal Canadiens.
The Panthers turned it around in a hurry.
Roberto Luongo made some key saves, and Florida rallied for a 3-2 shootout victory on Thursday night.
“We’ve been doing that all year,” Luongo said. “We never quit.
“No matter what the score is, we believe in our chances to win the game. There was no panic and we got the job done.”
Brendan Gallagher scored two goals for the Canadiens (37-16-5), but Tomas Fleischmann got one back for the Panthers and recent promotion Steven Kampfer scored his first NHL goal since 2012 in the third period.
Dave Bolland recorded the clinching score in the sixth round of the shootout for Florida (26-19-12), which has won the first two games of a five-game trip that takes it to Ottawa on Saturday.
The Panthers are one point back of Boston for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff position.
“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” Luongo said. “We realize we’re in the thick of things, which is exciting and fun for our group but we have to take it a game at a time.”
The Canadiens, dealing with injury trouble for the first time this season, outshot Florida 39-21.
“We’re a young team, but our team worked extremely hard,” coach Michel Therrien said. “I liked the effort.”
Gallagher was in his usual spot, in front of the opponent’s goal, when he sent Max Pacioretty’s rebound past Luongo 2:31 into the second. It was his 100th career point.
Gallagher pounced on a loose puck for his 15th goal of the season at 10:32, but the Panthers quickly responded. They got two chances from the slot and Fleischmann buried the second at 11:54 with Bolland parked in front of Carey Price.
A Florida power play had just ended when Fleischmann set up Kampfer for a quick shot that beat Price on the short side at 4:57 of the third. It was Kampfer’s first NHL goal since 2012 with Minnesota.
“I just saw right over his pad and I was lucky to get it over him,” Kampfer said. “It was huge to get that goal and get us back in the game.
“It’s definitely a huge win for us, for the standings and for morale on this team.”
It was the second game in a row in which Montreal outshot its opponent but lost the game. The Canadiens had a 44-39 advantage Wednesday night in a 4-2 loss in Ottawa.
“We had enough chances, but (Luongo) is a good goalie and he made some pretty good saves,” Gallagher said. “But, at the same time, there’s always ways to beat goalies and we have to find a way to do that.”
NOTES: Montreal’s Alex Galchenyuk was out with the flu. … Canadiens D Alexei Emelin, injured Wednesday in Ottawa, will miss at least a week, then be re-evaluated. … Canadiens D Sergei Gonchar was placed on injured reserve. … Florida’s Dmitry Kulikov sat out the third of his four-game suspension.
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