December 31, 2017 / 3:25 AM / a year ago

Reimer blanks Canadiens; Panthers win fifth straight

Reimer blanks Canadiens; Panthers win fifth straight

SUNRISE, Fla. — Florida’s James Reimer is proving that Saturday night is all right for shutouts and keeping streaks alive.

The Panthers’ goaltender stopped 38 shots by Montreal and recorded his second shutout in successive Saturdays as Florida won its season-high fifth straight game by defeating the Canadiens 2-0 at BB&T Center.

Reimer blanked Ottawa 1-0 on Dec. 23 in the third game of the winning streak.

His stonewalling of the Canadiens was the 19th shutout of his career.

“It’s nice,” Reimer said of the two Saturday shutouts. “Your teammates in front of you work extremely hard, and it’s nice when the bounces go your way.

“You just have to stay in the moment and try to make saves. You don’t put too much expectation on yourself; you just come to the rink and try to give the boys a chance.”

Connor Brickley and Vincent Trocheck scored for the Panthers (17-16-5). Mark Pysyk, Mike Matheson, MacKenzie Weegar and Brickley posted assists.

Carey Price recorded 31 saves for Montreal (16-19-4), which had its four-game winning streak versus Florida snapped.

Late in the first period, Brickley — a third-line left winger — was moved up to the second line, switching with Evgenii Dadonov. The adjustment made an immediate impact.

Scoreless in the second period, Florida tallied when Brickley collected a rebound to Price’s right and whipped his fourth goal past the netminder at 4:02 for a 1-0 lead.

“It was just hunting pucks, take the rebound and get the puck on net and just fortunate that it went in,” said Brickley of his second goal in his last four games.

Brickley led a breakout in the third period that led to a 2-on-1 rush with Weegar, Trocheck and Canadiens defenseman Jordie Benn.

Weegar slid a backhand pass by a sliding Benn to the right side to Trocheck, who tapped in his team-leading 15th goal past Price at 11:49 for a 2-0 lead.

Montreal’s loss was its fourth straight. The club finished 2-5-0 on its road trip.

Captain Max Pacioretty said the Canadiens changed their approach on offense and tried to put more players in front of Reimer, but the execution was sloppy.

“I thought we had the right approach as to how to create offense,” Pacioretty said. “Like I said, the execution wasn’t perfect. Last practice was really the first time we’ve worked on how the D can support the rush and how we can play as five in the offensive zone.

“It led to some chances tonight, but our execution has to be better to get more chances.”

Pacioretty added that the three straight losses are starting to wear on him, saying, “I can’t speak for everyone else, but many frustrations kind of creep in and it’s definitely there, but I can’t let it take over my game and my mindset.”

Montreal coach Claude Julien said his team, playing its third game in four nights, looked the part of a tired group.

“I honestly know that those guys in there, the will and the desire was there. Having said that, again, you don’t score goals, you don’t win hockey games,” Julien said.

NOTES: Montreal scratched D Brett Lernout and LWs Nicolas Deslauriers and Jacob de la Rose. ... Defensemen Shea Weber (foot) and David Schlemko (flu) did not make the three-game eastern U.S. part of the seven-game road trip. ... G Carey Price made his 15th start in the last 16 games. He matched a career best with his 12th straight start against Calgary on Dec. 22 but did not play the following night in Edmonton. ... Montreal is home against San Jose on Tuesday. ... Florida scratched RW Radim Vrbata and D Ian McCoshen. ... Panthers D Keith Yandle played in his 671st straight game, leaving him eight behind Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin for the NHL’s seventh all-time longest streak. ... Panthers G James Reimer made his 11th consecutive start. ... Florida starts a four-game road trip in Minnesota on Tuesday.

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