February 09, 2016

FIGHT NIGHT IN BUFFALO: Evander Kane and Alex Petrovic square off three times in wild 7-4 win by the Panthers ... Reilly Smith scores twice, six others put puck in the net for Florida Panthers ... No discipline for Justin Abdelkader ... 'He should be susp

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
BUFFALO
By the third period, the only reason most folks stuck around First Niagara Center was to see if there would be a Round 3.
The Panthers had a commanding lead on the Sabres in an eventual 7-4 win, yet the hometown team did win something: The Sabres won the Tuesday Night Fights.
Evander Kane and Alex Petrovic squared off three times Tuesday, with the Buffalo defenseman getting the better of his Florida counterpart in each bout.
After winning the second meet in the second, Kane put up two fingers on one hand, a zero on the other. He didn't put up a 3-0 after the third period bout -- one in which both players were ejected -- but didn't need to.
While Kane went off the ice to a sea of high-fives, Petrovic earned the Panthers' prized 'Spacey In Space' sweatshirt.
Along with the victory and two more points for the division leading Panthers, Petrovic was all smiles.
"I didn't think I was coming in here to have three fights but that's how it goes,'' Petrovic said. "I got a goal, got an assist, got the Gordie Howe hat trick. So, I'm pretty happy with my effort.''
Said coach Gerard Gallant: "He had a great game; the goal, assist and not just the one fight but three. He was plus-4. Look at that stat sheet. What a great night."
The Panthers were obviously frustrated after Monday's 3-0 shutout in Detroit and came out flying, knocking out starting goalie Robin Lehner when Petrovic scored 22 seconds into the second period to make it 4-0.
"We were frustrated and played an OK game [Monday] but didn't have the hunger in the offensive zone," Jussi Jokinen said. "We wanted a bounce-back game and I think we got it."
Florida took a 3-0 lead into the first break as Reilly Smith, Brian Campbell and Jokinen all scored.
Buffalo closed to 4-2 but got no closer as Brandon Pirri, moved to center with Sasha Barkov out with what is thought to be a slight concussion, scored moments after a big Roberto Luongo save to open things up again.
"Nothing is safe in this league and they came back with a push,'' Smith said. "Luckily enough, Luongo made some big saves and blocked the puck.''
Florida later got a goal from Jaromir Jagr -- he's two back of Brett Hull for third all-time -- and an empty-netter from Smith to end it.
"Everyone was skating, it didn't look like we played [Monday],'' Jagr said. "We took the lead and were skating very well. It kind of surprised me. We should have been tired and we weren't. It's a good sign.''
-- Barkov was sent back to South Florida after being knocked out of Monday's game by Detroit's Justin Abdelkader.
As part of the NHL's concussion protocol, Barkov was automatically out of Tuesday's game and is expected to miss Friday against St. Louis as well.
One member of the Panthers' front office said Barkov was sent back only because he wasn't playing Tuesday and isn't scheduled for any more neurological tests. The Panthers hope to have Barkov back Saturday against Nashville.
As for Abdelkader, not only did he not get a penalty for the hit on Barkov but he won't face any supplemental discipline from the league either.
With no hearing scheduled, Abdelkader is expected to be in the Wings' lineup Wednesday against Ottawa.
"That's our best player and my good friend so maybe I'm looking at the situation differently,'' said Jussi Jokinen, who has had a beef with Abdelkader since last week.
"But in talking to others around the league, it was a dangerous hit. He needs to be suspended. ... After seeing the replays, the league needs to do a better job."
Said Shawn Thornton: "My understanding of the rule is, if a player is vulnerable, it's the player's obligation to not throw that hit. He did."
-- Kane and Petrovic became the first players to fight three times in the same game since Bob Probert and Jody Shelley went at it during a Chicago-Columbus game in 2002.
-- Florida's seven goals matches a season high set in the opening night 7-1 win over the visiting Flyers.
-- With Barkov out, the Panthers recalled Garrett Wilson from their AHL team in Portland, Maine.
Wilson was in the lineup Tuesday on the fourth line with Derek MacKenzie and Thornton.
Rookie Corban Knight was scratched.
To make room for Wilson, Erik Gudbranson was placed on injured reserve. Gudbranson is eligible to return Friday against St. Louis.

 

February 08, 2016

Juliette Agnes Tallon: 1929-2016

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
DETROIT -- General manager Dale Tallon left South Florida last week to be with his mother Julie in Canada in what would be her final days.
On Sunday, Juliette Agnes Tallon died at 87.
Dale Tallon, who lost his father Stan in 2008, is expected to remain away with the team at least into the weekend. The funeral for his mother is Thursday in Oshawa, Ontario.
Dale Tallon has requested donations to the Alzheimers foundation instead of flowers.
"She had been ill for a long period of time,'' said team executive Peter Luukko, on this trip with associate general manager Tom Rowe in Tallon's absence.
"We know how tough this situation is for Dale. He was an only child and has now lost both his mom and dad. It has to be tough on him right now.''


Here is the link to Mrs. Tallon's obituary. My deepest condolenses are with Dale and his family in this tough time.

http://obits.dignitymemorial.com/dignity-memorial/obituary.aspx?n=Juliette-Tallon&lc=3774&pid=177647471&mid=6792730

 

DOWN AND OUT: Panthers lose 3-0 to Red Wings, Sasha Barkov hurt on hit from Justin Abdelkader ... Barkov out Tuesday in Buffalo

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
DETROIT
The Panthers lost both a game and one of their best players Monday night.
During Florida's 3-0 loss to the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, top-line center Sasha Barkov was hurt after being leveled by Detroit's Justin Abdelkader midway through the second period.
The team officially said Barkov left with an 'upper body' injury although he got hit directly in the head by Abdelkader in a brutal open ice check in which Abdelkader sized Barkov up and drove him to the ice.
"I don't know if it was an elbow or a shoulder, but he got him in the head and it's a head shot,'' Nick Bjugstad said.
No penalty was called on Abdelkader -- although Florida's Alex Petrovic was charged with cross-checking -- which incensed the Panthers.
"It was a cheap hit, I don't know how the ref didn't call it,'' Bjugstad said. "It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We're not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We'll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don't know how it wasn't handled on the ice."
Said Jaromir Jagr: "They are going to do what ever the referees allow them to. It's up to the referees for it to stop."
Barkov is believed to have been removed from the game due to the league's concussion protocol.
When Barkov will return to the lineup is unknown but he will miss Tuesday's game in Buffalo.
The Panthers lost six of 10 when Barkov was out with a broken bone in his hand earlier this season.
"You hate to lose your top player, but that's part of the game,'' coach Gerard Gallant said. "We're disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn't see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It's tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it'll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw."
During the game, the Panthers -- who had won five consecutive games at the aging and soon to be replaced Joe Louis Arena -- and Wings were scoreless through the first two periods.
Backup goalie Al Montoya held down the fort as long as he could Monday as Detroit, which lost 6-3 in Sunrise last Thursday, came hard at the Panthers and were outshooting Florida throughout.
Detroit finally broke the scoreless tie 4:19 into the third when Tomas Tatar got in front of the net and deflected a Jakub Kindl shot and got it past Montoya.
Midway through the period, Detroit made it 2-0 when Pavel Datsyuk took advantage of the Red Wings' fourth power play chance and whipped a shot from 45 feet out that got through.
Minutes later, Datsyuk ended things with 7:26 left when he walked in on Montoya off a slick Henrik Zetterberg feed and beat Montoya.
The Panthers' six-game point streak ended with Monday's loss as they head to Buffalo with two consecutive losses and their first shutout since a 6-0 beatdown in Calgary last month.
Florida will be without shutdown defensemen Willie Mitchell and Erik Gudbranson as well as Barkov.
A roster move is expected.
"Barkov is a big piece of our team, the engine who makes everything go,'' Brian Campbell said.
"We'll see if guys step up. Just because we lose Barkov doesn't mean we have to start making mistakes."

--Center Vincent Trocheck was honored by the NHL as its third star of the past week after scoring three goals with three assists as the Panthers went 2-0-1 against Washington, Detroit and Pittsburgh.
"I'll take it," said Trocheck, who came into Monday leading the Panthers with 17 goals and fifth on the team in scoring with 33 points.
-- Gallant said Erik Gudbranson did not travel with the team to Detroit so Tuesday's game in Buffalo will be Florida's third without perhaps their best shutdown defenseman.
Willie Mitchell also isn't with the team and will have missed eight games by the time the Panthers return home.
Tuesday: Panthers at Sabres
When, where: 7 p.m.; First Niagara Center, Buffalo
TV/Radio: FSFL; 560 WQAM, 640 WMEN
Series: Buffalo leads 46-37-4
Scouting report: Roberto Luongo finally gave up a goal in Buffalo during Florida's 5-1 win there on Jan. 5 snapping his three-game shutout streak at First Niagara Center. With a win, Florida would win the season series over the Sabres for the sixth consecutive year.

 

 

 

February 07, 2016

LONG ROAD LEADS TO SUNRISE: Brent Regner finally gets chance to make NHL debut with Florida Panthers ... Cats look to continue Motor City success

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
DETROIT
Brent Regner's road to the NHL has been long, strange and difficult.
So, it should have come as no surprise to him that when the Florida Panthers finally called him up to the show, they did so in the middle of a monster snowstorm.
Regner's various flights south were delayed and instead of arriving in Fort Lauderdale on Friday night to enjoy his first NHL morning skate on Saturday, he was stuck spending Friday in Philadelphia before landing Saturday afternoon.
"It was awesome, very special,'' Regner said after making his NHL debut with the Panthers on Saturday night at the age of 26.
"It has been a long road for me to make an appearance in the NHL. It was great, a special moment. Mentally I had to stay prepared to do my best."
A fifth-round pick by Columbus in 2008, the odds of Regner realizing his NHL dream were long. Few low draft picks are given the benefit of the doubt and truly have to earn their way up.
For Regner, fighting his way to the NHL meant plenty of minor league stops -- including a pair of games in the double-A ECHL.
Over the past seven years since a successful junior career with the Vancouver Giants, Regner has played for five different AHL teams including Syracuse, Peoria, Springfield, Chicago and Portland.
Regner's promotion Friday was met with plenty of heartfelt messages from friends and teammates.
"So happy for my friend, teammate and captain,'' Panthers' minor league goalie Mike McKenna wrote on Twitter. "After 6.5 seasons grinding in the Iron League he gets 1st NHL game.''
"Go get them Regner," the Portland Pirates wrote. "Portland is proud of you."
Even teams he formerly played for directed congratulatory tweets his way.
"Great news that Brent Regner,'' wrote the AHL Chicago Wolves official site, "last year's Wolves captain, gets to make his NHL debut tonight."
Tom Rowe coached Regner in Portland before getting his own call-up to become the Panthers' associate general manager.
Rowe said when it became apparent Erik Gudbranson wouldn't be able to play Saturday, he and general manager Dale Tallon discussed "bringing the best guy up."
They decided on Regner.
"He was an easy choice because he has been the most consistent guy down there,'' Rowe said.
"We talked about his style and we know he's a very intelligent player who will fit in with our guys here. Sometimes all you need is a chance. If the coaches trust and believe in him, who knows what can happen after that."
As for Regner's future in the NHL, well, the opportunity is here at least immediately.
Although Gudbranson was expected to travel to Detroit, it's not known whether he will return Monday against the Wings.
Regner traveled with the team to Detroit and could get in his second game Monday.
"I have to make the most of my opportunity,'' he said. "It's tough we lost [Saturday], that's never good. Hopefully we bounce back against Detroit. I'm here, I'm excited to be here.''
Paired with Steven Kampfer, last year's successful AHL callup, Regner didn't look out of place although his time was limited.
"He looked solid to me,'' coach Gerard Gallant said. "He looked pretty good.''
-- The Panthers are back in Detroit, facing a Red Wings team they are getting very familiar with.
Monday's game at Joe Louis Arena is the second meeting between the teams in a span of three games. Florida won the past meeting 6-3 in Sunrise on Friday and are 2-0 against the Wings this season.
"You go to Detroit and know they have a good team, a skilled team,'' Gallant said. "If you're not ready to play there, it can get pretty ugly in a hurry."
Added Sasha Barkov: "Every game is important but when you play a team twice in three games, it's like playoff hockey. They know how we're playing and we know how they are playing. It's going to be a tough game."
Monday: Panthers at Red Wings
When, where:
7:30 p.m.; Joe Louis Arena, Detroit
TV/Radio: FSFL; 560 WQAM, 640 WMEN
Series: Detroit leads 16-9-5
Scouting report: The Panthers have won five of the past six against the Red Wings under coach, and former Wings' forward, Gerard Gallant. Florida has won five straight at Joe Louis Arena including 2-1 in overtime here in December.

Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

 

February 05, 2016

FLORIDA PANTHERS ARE POWERED UP: Special teams fueling Florida's five-game winning streak ... Panthers tough on penalty kill, great on power play

Bark3
TWITTER: @AricDiLalla

Forget all the noise about punt returns and missed extra points as Super Bowl Sunday approaches. The Florida Panthers are putting on a special teams display of their own at the BB&T Center.

And on Thursday, the Panthers continued to excel during hockey’s two biggest opportunities for success or failure: the penalty kill and power play.

Since a Jan. 2 win over the Rangers, Florida has shut down 90.7 percent of its opponents’ power plays. In those previous 54 chances, they’ve allowed just five goals. The defensive performance wasn’t quite as sharp on Thursday, as the Panthers allowed two goals on seven power play chances, but coach Gerard Gallant seemed pleased with the effort.

“The penalty kill has been strong for us for the last number (of games),” Gallant said. “They got two against us tonight, but (we) still did a real good job against a power play that was really dangerous every time they touched the puck.”

Florida’s ability to fight off the opposition’s power play has been a constant theme during this five game win streak. The league-leading Washington Capitals score on the power play at a 25 percent clip, but the Panthers killed off all eight of Washington’s power play chances at the Verizon Center on Tuesday.

The showing only served to bolster the Panthers’ seventh-ranked penalty kill unit that has staved off opposing power plays at an 83.4 percent rate this season. There’s also still plenty of room for improvement, as the Panthers have racked up 14 penalties in their last two games.

“Our penalty kill’s been phenomenal all year,” center Vincent Trocheck said. “(Derek) MacKenzie, (Reilly) Smith, Jussi (Jokinen) and (Sasha) Barkov, and then all our defensemen have been great on the kill. Power play, we’ve been working on it. We were struggling there pretty badly for a stretch and special teams is going to be big going late into the season, into the playoffs.”

That 0-for-28 stretch lasted most of January but has ended in a big way. Since Nick Bjugstad ended the drought against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 23, the Panthers have poured in goals on six of their last 15 chances.

Florida jumped from 25th to 22nd in the NHL after Thursday's game and hold a 17.7 percent power play conversion rate. Their most recent success would put them above even the Capitals. The Panthers scored on two of their four power play opportunities on Thursday, and they’ve now tallied a power play goal in four consecutive games.

Gallant said he couldn’t explain the recent surge, but he said his team has been skating hard and pointed to the chemistry on various lines.

“We work a lot on it,” Brandon Pirri said, “and there’s a lot of homework that goes into it. I think our coaches do a great job setting us up on tendencies, what they do, and at the same time, we’re executing. That’s what it comes down to.”

ANOTHER YOUNG GUN: Vincent Trocheck stepping out of the shadows, into prominent role with Florida Panthers ... Roberto Luongo takes day off, Panthers pull replacement from ticket office ... Attendance keeps growing, another sellout with Pens in town

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
When the national hockey media talks about the Florida Panthers core group of young players, one usually gets overlooked.
While it's easy to fixate on the likes of rising stars Aaron Ekblad, Sasha Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad, Vincent Trocheck sometimes slips through the cracks.
Those who sleep on Trocheck, however, do so at their own risk.
"He's a big part of our team and it's not just the four or five people everyone talks about,'' Florida coach Gerard Gallant said on Friday, a day after the 22-year-old Trocheck scored twice against Detroit.
"There are five or six other guys who are also very important. If we're going to win, it's not about three or four guys, you need a team. And [Trocheck] is a big part of that. He's a good player and we know he's going to put up points. I see a guy working hard on both ends, playing a complete game.''
Trocheck has most definitely come into his own in his second full NHL season since being drafted in the third round by the Panthers in 2011.
Last year, Trocheck scored seven goals in 50 games; Thursday in his 51st game of this season, he took the team lead with 17.
With five goals in his past four games, Trocheck -- not Barkov or Jaromir Jagr -- currently leads the Panthers in goals.
"I think experience has a lot to do with it, I've worked at a lot of different aspects to my game,'' said Trocheck, a Pittsburgh native who faces his hometown Penguins Saturday.
"I'm focusing on the defensive side of the puck more and realize if you work hard on the defensive side, it will create more offense. You always want to improve and I've worked on everything throughout the summer and year. I feel good about things. You don't want to get to high or too low on yourself.''
Trocheck is a restricted free agent after this season with the team working on a long-term contract extension with their second-line center.
Although Trocheck gives the standard "I'm only playing hockey" line when it comes to his contract, he makes it clear he wants to keep this thing going with the Panthers.
"I love it here in Florida, love the staff, love everyone in this locker room,'' he said. "We have something special going on here, a lot of young guys. This could be a team that does well for a long time."
Trocheck's speed plays well on a line with two other fast players in Jussi Jokinen and Reilly Smith. Those two are also having stellar seasons.
"We have a lot of chemistry, I've played with Jokinen a lot over the years,'' Trocheck said.
"Smith is someone who can play with anyone. He works hard, has a lot of skill. He can put the puck in the net whenever he pleased. We've clicked."
Those three are playing so well, Gallant won't designate either as his first line.
As far as he's concerned, the Trocheck line as well as the more publicized trio of Barkov, Huberdeau and Jagr are on equal footing.
"There are two lines which are the top lines to me,'' Gallant said. "I like them both. We have some really good players. It's a good problem to have.''
-- Roberto Luongo took Friday off to rest a bit but will start Saturday against the Penguins.
"He's 100 percent,'' Gallant said.
With Luongo absent, the Panthers pulled Bobby Segin out of their ticket office and put him between the pipes for practice.
A former goalie at UConn, Segin has been working on the Panthers' sales team this season and plays in the organization's morning hockey games at the arena.
Segin is a longtime family friend of Florida executive Peter Luukko and was noticed during those morning games by assistant coach John Madden who got his information in case they needed him.
Friday, they did.


"This was a dream come true,'' Segin said after a long workout. "I love playing hockey ... I wasn't nervous today, I knew it was going to be light. All the guys were great.''
Said Brandon Pirri: "You feel a little bad for the new guy sometimes, because you're shooting a little higher and harder than you usually would without Luongo yelling at you. He held his own, did a good job.''
-- The Panthers, who have won five consecutive games, are expecting their seventh sellout of the season on Saturday.
Last year, Florida sold out five of 41 home games.
The Panthers' average attendance of 14,620 is up almost 30 percent from last season as they have moved from last in the league to 25th.
The Panthers' announced crowd of 20,289 on Jan. 4 against the Rangers is their biggest of the season and third-largest all-time.
-- With Erik Gudbranson questionable for Saturday's game, Florida called up 26-year-old Brent Regner from its AHL team in Portland, Maine.
Regner, the Pirates' captain, was a fifth round draft pick by Columbus in 2008 and has played in over 400 AHL games.
If Regner plays Saturday, it will be his NHL debut in what is his first NHL recall.
Gudbranson has apparently been bothered by something since getting hit last week against Toronto.
Saturday: Penguins at Panthers
When, where: 7 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise
TV/Radio: FSFL; 560 WQAM, 640 WMEN, WNMA 1210
Series: Pittsburgh leads 44-35-4
Scouting report: After a slow start which cost coach Mike Johnston his job, the Penguins are within striking distance of a playoff spot and had won four consecutive games heading into Friday's game in Tampa. Going into Friday, star Sidney Crosby had 11 goals and 18 points in his previous 12 games.

 

 

 

February 04, 2016

SPACEY IN SUNRISE?: Actor Kevin Spacey films short clip for team ... Florida Panthers hope 'SpaceyInSpace' comes for a game or two

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

The Panthers' relationship with Kevin Spacey continues to grow.

Thursday, the Panthers released a video the actor filmed for them and played it on the video review boards during the third period. Spacey, the focal point of the team's 'Spacey In Space' sweatshirt awarded to top players after victories, was shown leafing through various team jerseys before coming upon his own with the number 1738 on the back.

Spacey pulled the jersey off the rack, smiled and put a thumbs up.

"That was pretty cool," said Brandon Pirri, who scored a goal with an assist.

"You don't really want to be looking at the Jumbotron during a game but we were all nudging each other."

The reference to '1738' apparently goes back to the team's victory song -- which is 'Trap Queen' by rapper Fetty Wap -- in which Remy Martin 1738 cognac is referred to.

The team is apparently working on getting the Oscar-winning actor to a game or to somehow interact with the team.

"If we keep going the way we are,'' Pirri said, "I'm sure he will be."

It's believed some players ran into and met Spacey while the team was in New York back in December, leading to the sweatshirt and the subsequent craze.

The team sold out of the first 150 replica sweatshirts it ordered last week but restocked and had them for sale again Thursday before Florida's 6-3 win over Detroit for the team's fifth consecutive victory.

Sales of the sweatshirt benefit the Florida Panthers Foundation as well as Spacey's foundation.

Photo courtesy of Jameson Olive/@JamesonCoop

 

FLORIDA'S CRAZY TRAIN KEEPS ROLLING: Panthers keep scoring and keep winning as they trounce Detroit 6-3 ... Brandon Pirri makes big return, Vincent Trocheck gets two goals, assist ... Jaromir Jagr gets in on action as well

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
The Florida Panthers have never scored this many goals and it feels like they've never beaten so many good teams.
Yes, they keep setting them up and knocking them down these days.
Detroit is the latest Eastern Conference challenger to get run over by the Panthers' as Florida jumped to a three-goal lead and rolled to a 6-3 win over the Red Wings at BB&T Center.
"Hopefully we can keep playing like this,'' Jaromir Jagr said.
Florida extended its lead on Tampa Bay to seven points atop the Atlantic Division and are now nine points up on the Red Wings.
The Panthers have now won five consecutive games in runaway fashion, outscoring the likes of Chicago, Tampa Bay, Washington and the Wings by an impressive 25-8 tally.
The Panthers' five-plus goals in their past four games is a franchise record.
"We're clicking, playing great hockey,'' said Vincent Trocheck, who scored twice and had an assist on Jagr's goal to make it 5-2.
"There's just something about the boys in this room. It's been a ton of fun. We have a great team here.''
Detroit, which lost in Tampa Bay on Wednesday night, came out flying and put goalie Roberto Luongo to the test early.
Yet as was the case Tuesday in Washington, the Panthers quickly turned the tables and started scoring in bunches.
"Well we didn't play our best and Louie kept us in the game,'' Jagr said.
"We gave them too many scoring chances in the first two periods. It looked like they were all over us, but we had the lead."
Brandon Pirri, benched the past four games, got back in action quickly as he got a stick on Alex Petrovic's 45-foot shot and got the puck past Jimmy Howard 8:30 in to make it 1-0.
"Getting the early goal really helps," Pirri said. "When I wasn't playing, I saw the stat of how good we are when we score first [26-3-3]. It's insane. We know that's important. We get the first one and we're in good shape."
The goals started pouring in after that, with Sasha Barkov cashing in on Florida's first power play with a soft top-shelf wrister at 10:41.
Just 25 seconds later, Trocheck broke loose off a Jagr pass, charged in on Howard and beat him to make it 3-0.
Detroit got back into the game late in the first period when Jagr got sent to the box for slashing.
As all four Florida defensemen converged on the puck in the corner, Dylan Larkin -- Detroit's 19-year-old All-Star -- was all alone in the slot across from Luongo.
Larkin got a pass and beat Luongo to make it 3-1 with 5.5 seconds left in the period. Early in the second, Larkin made it 3-2 by breaking loose when Aaron Ekblad was interfered with and walked in on Luongo again.
The Panthers gave themselves some breathing room with 3:47 left in the period.
Pirri was back at it, firing an odd-angle shot from the side boards that caught a piece of Derek MacKenzie and went into the back of the net.
After a pair of reviews -- one to make sure MacKenzie didn't kick the puck in, another on an interference challenge by Detroit -- MacKenzie's goal stood and Florida took a 4-2 lead into the second break.
"It wasn't pretty but it worked out,'' Pirri said.
The Panthers continued their assault on Howard, who hasn't won a game for the Wings since Dec. 3, with Jagr getting his first goal since Jan. 10.
Later in the proceedings, after the Red Wings pulled Howard and got their third goal, Trocheck all but ended things with five minutes left by scoring into the empty net.
The Panthers go for their sixth consecutive win Saturday against Pittsburgh before visiting the Red Wings in Detroit on Monday.
Florida now has its third five-game winning streak of the season, all since Thanksgiving.
"We played a pretty good game overall and you’ve got to give Detroit credit,'' coach Gerard Gallant said. "That’s a good hockey team with a lot of talent and they looked really good tonight.”

 

READY TO RETURN: Brandon Pirri is back from benching, will play on third line Thursday against Detroit

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
Brandon Pirri will return to the Panthers lineup Thursday after being a healthy scratch the past four games.
Coach Gerard Gallant has been vague with why Pirri has been on the bench so long, saying Tuesday he didn't want to mess with a winning lineup -- although Gallant did switch up goalies Tuesday and Pirri is in tonight after four consecutive wins.
"It was frustrating at first but you have to put that aside,'' Pirri said. "I'm part of this team. There isn't added pressure, but it's an opportunity.
"You know what, I've done this before, I have confidence in myself. It's just a matter of going out, playing my game, and not trying to do too much. I also can't do too little. I'll compete, be consistent and we'll see what happens."
Pirri hasn't scored in his past six games and was a minus-5 during that span.
Gallant made the change when Florida was in the midst of a four-game losing streak and the Panthers bounced back, winning their past four.
"The team has been going good and that's a silver lining,'' Pirri said. "Now it's my time to contribute and I know I have a lot to offer. But I know, when we weren't doing well, it's competitive here. Other guys should have been playing. I've been on that side of it, on the outside looking in then when you get a chance, you make the most of it.
"We've been playing pretty well, but now I get the opportunity and need to make the most of it.''
That said, Pirri can score goals in bunches -- and while the Panthers have been great in that department, bringing him back can't hurt.
Florida has 19 goals in the four games Pirri has missed.
Pirri will be on the third line with Nick Bjugstad and Logan Shaw, players Pirri knows well.
He's ready to go.
"There's chemistry there, we're friends and it's important to play alongside people you like," Pirri said. "That should make it easier to gel a little quicker."

Alan Diaz/AP

 

February 03, 2016

GETTING IT DONE: Florida Panthers can't go wrong with either Roberto Luongo or Al Montoya in net

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

WASHINGTON

Robb Tallas is charged with coordinating the Panthers' goalie rotation.
With Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya as his options, Tallas admits it isn't the toughest gig in the world.
"Both guys have been terrific all year and that gives you so much confidence whichever way we go,'' Tallas said after Montoya improved to 8-2-1 by beating the Capitals 5-2 on Tuesday.
"The players have confidence in both that they will step up and make the saves they need to make.''
With the Panthers in first place and riding another winning streak, Tallas tries to strike the right balance between working Luongo too much and not giving enough work to Montoya.
On most nights, either choice has been the right one as Luongo and Montoya may be the best 1-2 option in the NHL.
Luongo is ranked in the NHL's top 10 in save percentage (93) and goals-against average (2.08) as well as wins (22) and shutouts (four).
Montoya would be ranked as well, although he hasn't played enough games (13) to be considered.
Montoya has stopped 93 percent of shots faced, with an average goals-against at 1.93.
Florida's 109 goals allowed are second-fewest only to Washington's 108.
"They both give us a chance to win every night,'' Brian Campbell said. "Both make huge saves for us at times. You need consistent saves every night and they both bring it. Montoya gets put into a tough spot a lot of times and nothing seems to change."
A former NHL goalie himself, Tallas has been credited by both Luongo and Montoya as a hands-on coach who doesn't make them do too much.
During the summer, Luongo seeks out Tallas' help in working on drills while Montoya says Tallas hits the right balance on making sure his goalies are rested yet ready.
"He doesn't overwork us,'' Montoya said after he became the first goalie this season to beat the Washington Capitals twice.
"We do what we need. We work on specifics but it's not about facing 100 extra shots after practice. It's about feeling good, keeping that game mentality in practice."
Montoya has done a good job this season of being ready when called upon.
Although Luongo -- who is having, statistically, perhaps the best season of his long career -- gets most of the work, Montoya has turned in some top performances.
Even though he has only started four games since the New Year, Montoya earned the 'Spacey In Space' sweatshirt for the second time on Tuesday.
Against the Capitals, Montoya was stellar especially early when the Panthers needed him most.
Florida looked like it enjoyed its All-Star break a bit too much and the Capitals, perhaps overcompensating without Alex Ovechkin in the lineup, came out guns blazing.
Montoya stopped eight shots in the first half of the opening period, many of which were tough, point blank saves.
Then, the Panthers got a goal from Jonathan Huberdeau to take an unlikely 1-0 lead. By the start of the second, Montoya had made 16 saves only the Panthers had a 3-0 lead and were rolling.
"I'll take what games I can get and contribute when I can,'' said Montoya, whose 36 saves Tuesday were second only to the 39 he made in a win over the Wild last month.
"I prepare to play every game and when I get called, I know I can give this team a chance to win and that's all I focus on. I try not to do more than that. I make the saves I can.''
On Thursday, Detroit comes to Sunrise and Luongo will be back manning the nets. Luongo will likely start Saturday as well, with Montoya's next opportunity to play next week when Florida visits Detroit and Buffalo on consecutive nights.
Montoya will keep working, waiting until called again.
"Montoya knows his role and there's no deflecting things,'' Tallas said. "They are a tandem, a team out there. Luongo has been a rock and Montoya has been as well."
-- The Panthers are the only team to beat the Capitals twice this season and it was their first win in Washington since 2010.
Montoya went 2-0-1 against the Capitals this season, handing Florida its first season win over Washington since 2010-11.
Dmitry Kulikov was there for most of Florida's 10 consecutive losses at Verizon Center and is enjoying his team's success in buildings they've struggled in over his tenure.
"My memories here aren't good. We've been destroyed here,'' Kulikov said. "For this team, though, this was just another win in our season. We keep collecting points. It's awesome being a part of this team. We have a great group of guys. We're all having fun. It's much better than being miserable.''
-- Jaromir Jagr left Tuesday's game midway through the third with what is said to be lower body tightness. The Panthers do not believe the injury is anything serious.
-- By killing off all eight penalties incurred on Tuesday, Florida's penalty kill jumped from eighth to fifth in the league.
Washington's first goal, however, was directly linked to Florida's final kill as it was scored seconds after Derek MacKenzie raced out of the box. He was slapped with an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct after being called for hooking -- Florida's third such penalty.
"Our penalty kill was just terrific,'' Tallas said.
Thursday: Red Wings at Panthers
When, where: 7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise
TV/Radio: FSFL; 560 WQAM, 640 WMEN, WNMA 1210
Series: Detroit leads 16-8-5
Scouting report: The Panthers have won four of five against the Red Wings under coach -- and former Detroit winger -- Gerard Gallant in the past two seasons.

Photo: Terry Renna/AP

 

February 02, 2016

CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT: Florida Panthers keep on rolling, snap 10-game losing streak in Washington with 5-2 rout of Capitals ... Al Montoya out of this world with 36 saves, wins 2 of 3 v Caps this season

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
WASHINGTON
The Florida Panthers haven't been in the national spotlight much in the past two decades.
They put on quite the show Tuesday.
Florida came out of the All-Star break much like they went into it, scoring a bunch of goals and getting great goaltending -- this time from Al Montoya -- in a 5-2 win over the host Washington Capitals.
"We're playing the best teams in the league and we're winning,'' Sasha Barkov said. "It says we can beat any team in the league, we can dominate any team."
The win was Florida's first in Washington since Tomas Vokoun pitched a shutout here in 2010 -- a run of 10 consecutive losses (by a combined 36-13) in the District.
"We know we're a good team and we believe in ourselves,'' said Jonathan Huberdeau, who scored twice and had an assist in the rout.
"We're showing that on the ice. We got the lead early and our goaltender did the job. It's a team effort. We're in first right now ... Every game we want to show we're a really good team.''
Playing on national television for the first time since in two years, Florida raced out to a 2-0 first period lead on the Eastern Conference leading Capitals before Vincent Trocheck made it 3-0 just 21 seconds into the second.
The win was Florida's fourth consecutive; three victories have come against the defending Stanley Cup finalists (Chicago, Tampa Bay) as well as the current east-leading Caps.
The Panthers have their past four games (cellar-dweller Toronto was Florida's last game before the break) by an impressive combined score of 19-5.
"I was on my toes the whole game,'' said Montoya, who got the 'Spacey In Space' MVP sweatshirt.
"They came out firing and we know teams aren't going to quit. This was a big win after the break.''
The Capitals came into the game without two of their biggest stars as Alex Ovechkin served his suspension for skipping the All-Star Game and goalie Braden Holtby took a breather in the midst of his monster season.
And even thought the Panthers looked a step slow coming out of the gate, Montoya saved them time and again until the goals started coming.
Montoya, who won two of three starts against the Capitals this season, was forced to make 16 saves in the first period alone.
The Capitals didn't get their first goal until their 28th shot seconds into the third at the end of Florida's eighth penalty of the night.
Washington then added a second moments later to slice Florida's four-goal lead in half.
Florida took the initial lead midway through the first when Jaromir Jagr bull rushed around the net and sliced a pass to Huberdeau who charged in front of the net and beat Philpp Grubauer.
Five minutes later and Florida took advantage of a healthy 5-on-3 chance.
Huberdeau worked the puck around to Nick Bjugstad who flipped a backhanded shot to Sasha Barkov coming up the side. Barkov's high heat was way too much for Grubauer to handle.
"We're playing a more simple game, getting pucks to the net,'' Barkov said. "We have guys in front and that's why we're scoring and that's why we're winning.''
In the second, Trocheck took off after beating All-Star Evgeny Kuznetsov on the opening faceoff and sliced an odd-angle shot from the right side boards, somehow beating the goalie.
By the time Huberdeau got his second with 4:50 left in the period, Washington had Florida doubled up in shots yet trailed 4-0.
The Panthers, up 4-2 in the final minutes, capped things off when Quinton Howden got an empty-net goal.
"I thought we played well,'' Bjugstad said. "We had two good periods and we weathered the storm in the third."
-- Brandon Pirri was out of the Panthers' lineup for the fourth consecutive game.

-- Jagr left the game in the third period and didn't return with what one team source said was minor, lower-body soreness. Jagr didn't appear to be injured and his condition may just be fatigue-related and isn't thought to be serious. Jagr is expected to play Thursday against Detroit.

-- By losing Tuesday, Washington saw its run of 13 consecutive home games with at least a point end.
The Capitals, 18-4-2 at Verizon Center this season, dropped to 12-1-1 in their past 14 home games.
-- Before losing to the Panthers in December, Washington had picked up at least a point in 14 consecutive games against the Panthers.
Florida won two of three against the Capitals this season -- two of which came in regulation -- and took the season series for the first time since 2010-11.

 

February 01, 2016

A HAPPY ALL-STAR: Jaromir Jagr enjoys time in Nashville, says he's not surprised John Scott did well in Nashville

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
NASHVILLE
Jaromir Jagr may have been a reluctant member of the All-Star team but once he got to Nashville, seemed to enjoy himself.
"We weren't even sure he was going to be on the plane Thursday so that was a nice surprise right off the bat,'' Roberto Luongo said.
Saturday, Jagr was one of the stars of Saturday's Skills Challenge as Montreal's P.K. Subban came out for his breakaway competition dressed as Jagr complete with a flowing wig.
After Sunday's game, he didn't rule out a return perhaps next year in Los Angeles.
"You never really know what's going to happen,'' Jagr said. "We'll see. I said before I wanted to stay home to practice for the next 30 games. But this was fun, no doubt about it."
No one thought Jagr would dog it once on the ice but both Gallant and Luongo seemed taken back by how much Jagr put into Sunday's game.
Jagr scored in the first period -- he is in a seven-game slump, not scoring since Jan. 10 -- and was working hard defensively in the championship.
"He back-checked hard twice and I'm going to use that video for our games," coach Gerard Gallant said.
Said Luongo: "He doesn't even do that in Florida. I might have to have a chat with him on the flight home."
After the game, Jagr couldn't hide his pleasure in current AHLer John Scott winning the game's MVP vote after all he had been through.
The NHL, Jagr said, thought Scott's inclusion to the game would be a black-eye on the event since he was a fourth-line enforcer with Arizona. Then, he was traded to Montreal and demoted to the minors to void his All-Star invite.
The NHL eventually relented due to overwhelming backlash toward its dealing with the popular Scott and he became the belle of this country music ball.
"Was I surprised? No. He played in the league, played in the NHL. He played for a lot of years," Jagr said.
"The difference between the best player in the NHL and the worst player is very small. It's not a huge gap, not like it used to be. That's why it's so tough to score right now. The difference between the guys who score a lot of goals -- Ovechkin, Malkin, Crosby, Kane, Toews -- is the power play time.
"There are a lot of guys on the fourth line who have the skill to play on the top two lines. They just didn't get the oppportunity. That's why I'm not surprised at all. The game has changed."
As for Jagr's previous comments that he thought Scott would kill him during the All-Star Game, Jagr said it was in the back of his head.
"I'm glad we didn't have a big lead or he may have jumped on me," Jagr said of the championship game, won by Scott's Pacific team 1-0. "That's why we kept it close."

 

BACK AFTER IT: Florida Panthers ready to keep winning ways going after All-Star break ... Panthers visit Capitals Tuesday ... Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby out as Cats rest Roberto Luongo

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

NASHVILLE

Vacation is over for the Florida Panthers.
No more strolling Duval Street in Key West, tanning in the Bahamas or jamming in the Nashville honkey tonks.
"There are a lot of guys who were on vacation and didn't practice,'' Jaromir Jagr said after three Panthers and coach Gerard Gallant took part in Sunday's All-Star Game in Nashville.
"We're starting from zero I guess.''
Tuesday, the Panthers get back to the task at hand as Florida kicks off its final stretch by visiting the Washington Capitals -- the top team in the Eastern Conference -- in a game nationally televised on NBC Sports Net.
The Panthers, who come into Tuesday five points up in the Atlantic Division, have 33 games left as they make a run for just their third postseason berth since 2000.
"We need to get the right mindset right away,'' said Roberto Luongo, who won't play Tuesday.
"These are all important games down the stretch. We don't want things to slip away."
Florida opens against the Washington Capitals, a team it has earned three of the available four points so far this season.
The Panthers haven't fared well in the nation's capital lately, however.
Florida has lost 10 consecutive games at Verizon Center, its previous win coming on Dec. 9, 2010 when Tomas Vokoun made 36 saves and the Panthers got goals from Michael Frolik, Steve Bernier and Mike Santorelli.
Since 2010, Washington has won 13 of 14 home meetings between the two.
Florida, however, is playing its best hockey in years if not decades.
The Panthers have won their past three games and are 21-6-1 since Thanksgiving. One of those wins came against the visiting Capitals.
"Things have been going well for us the past few months and we want to keep it going,'' Gallant said. "We always talk about it's not about what we did our last two months, but what we do in our next two months.
"We all know what our goal was at the start of the season. We have 33 big ones left. We have to win our share of them to get into the playoffs. It's not about getting 90 points; it's about getting into the playoffs."
Washington will be minus some of its star power as Alex Ovechkin is suspended for Tuesday's game for skipping the All-Star Game.
The Capitals will also rest leading Vezina Trophy candidate Braden Holtby as both teams will bring out their backup goalies. Florida will rest Luongo as well, with Al Montoya getting the start against Washington for the third time this season.
Luongo has yet to face the Capitals this year.
"I'm saving it for the playoffs,'' he quipped.
Washington coach Barry Trotz said he has been impressed with the Panthers and the job general manager Dale Tallon has done building the roster up through the draft.
"He cropdusted the first and second rounds the past couple of years,'' Trotz said. "People in Florida should be very excited. ... They are one of the great up-and-coming teams."
Trotz had a lot of good things to say about defenseman Aaron Ekblad, saying the top pick in 2015 is growing into a superstar.
"He's going to be not only the face of the Panthers, but of the league,'' Trotz said.
Said Ekblad: "That's very sweet of him, he's one of the better coaches to ever coach. Those are kind words. It's an honor."
Tuesday: Panthers at Capitals
When, where: 7:30 p.m.; Verizon Center, Washington
TV/Radio: NBCSN; WQAM 560, WMEN 640
Series: Washington leads 60-46-9
Scouting report: The Eastern Conference leading Capitals have won seven of nine and went into the break with an overtime loss to the Flyers. The Panthers are 1-0-1 against the Caps this season with both games played in Sunrise and with Al Montoya in net.

 

 

BACK AFTER IT: Florida Panthers ready to keep winning ways going after All-Star break ... Panthers visit Capitals Tuesday ... Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby out as Cats rest Roberto Luongo

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

NASHVILLE

Vacation is over for the Florida Panthers.
No more strolling Duval Street in Key West, tanning in the Bahamas or jamming in the Nashville honkey tonks.
"There are a lot of guys who were on vacation and didn't practice,'' Jaromir Jagr said after three Panthers and coach Gerard Gallant took part in Sunday's All-Star Game in Nashville.
"We're starting from zero I guess.''
Tuesday, the Panthers get back to the task at hand as Florida kicks off its final stretch by visiting the Washington Capitals -- the top team in the Eastern Conference -- in a game nationally televised on NBC Sports Net.
The Panthers, who come into Tuesday five points up in the Atlantic Division, have 33 games left as they make a run for just their third postseason berth since 2000.
"We need to get the right mindset right away,'' said Roberto Luongo, who won't play Tuesday.
"These are all important games down the stretch. We don't want things to slip away."
Florida opens against the Washington Capitals, a team it has earned three of the available four points so far this season.
The Panthers haven't fared well in the nation's capital lately, however.
Florida has lost 10 consecutive games at Verizon Center, its previous win coming on Dec. 9, 2010 when Tomas Vokoun made 36 saves and the Panthers got goals from Michael Frolik, Steve Bernier and Mike Santorelli.
Since 2010, Washington has won 13 of 14 home meetings between the two.
Florida, however, is playing its best hockey in years if not decades.
The Panthers have won their past three games and are 21-6-1 since Thanksgiving. One of those wins came against the visiting Capitals.
"Things have been going well for us the past few months and we want to keep it going,'' Gallant said. "We always talk about it's not about what we did our last two months, but what we do in our next two months.
"We all know what our goal was at the start of the season. We have 33 big ones left. We have to win our share of them to get into the playoffs. It's not about getting 90 points; it's about getting into the playoffs."
Washington will be minus some of its star power as Alex Ovechkin is suspended for Tuesday's game for skipping the All-Star Game.
The Capitals will also rest leading Vezina Trophy candidate Braden Holtby as both teams will bring out their backup goalies. Florida will rest Luongo as well, with Al Montoya getting the start against Washington for the third time this season.
Luongo has yet to face the Capitals this year.
"I'm saving it for the playoffs,'' he quipped.
Washington coach Barry Trotz said he has been impressed with the Panthers and the job general manager Dale Tallon has done building the roster up through the draft.
"He cropdusted the first and second rounds the past couple of years,'' Trotz said. "People in Florida should be very excited. ... They are one of the great up-and-coming teams."
Trotz had a lot of good things to say about defenseman Aaron Ekblad, saying the top pick in 2015 is growing into a superstar.
"He's going to be not only the face of the Panthers, but of the league,'' Trotz said.
Said Ekblad: "That's very sweet of him, he's one of the better coaches to ever coach. Those are kind words. It's an honor."
Tuesday: Panthers at Capitals
When, where: 7:30 p.m.; Verizon Center, Washington
TV/Radio: NBCSN; WQAM 560, WMEN 640
Series: Washington leads 60-46-9
Scouting report: The Eastern Conference leading Capitals have won seven of nine and went into the break with an overtime loss to the Flyers. The Panthers are 1-0-1 against the Caps this season with both games played in Sunrise and with Al Montoya in net.

 

 

January 31, 2016

A SURPRISING MVP: John Scott wins the All-Star day, earns MVP honors ... Atlantic team, led by three Florida Panthers and coach Gerard Gallant, loses 1-0 in final

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
NASHVILLE
Midway through the championship period of Sunday's 61st annual NHL All-Star Game, fans began chanting John Scott's name.
Each time he stepped onto the ice, they roared 'M-V-P!'
And although the NHL didn't include him in their three nominees to vote for game MVP on Twitter, the social media site was flooded with write-in votes for him.
So, after taking the a long, strange road to the NHL All-Star Game, Scott, the most unlikeliest of candidates, won the day.
Although Scott didn't score in the Pacific Division's 1-0 win over the Atlantic to win the game and $1 million prize, the former Arizona enforcer who now toils for a minor league team in Canada was named the Most Valuable Player over all the millionaire superstars surrounding him.
"You can't put it into words,'' Scott said after being hoisted onto the shoulders of the likes of Brent Burns, Taylor Hall and Joe Pavelski.
"This has been a whirlwind. The best weekend of my life."
After winning an online vote to become captain of the Pacific team -- Florida's Jaromir Jagr was voted to captain the Atlantic -- Scott was suspiciously traded from the Coyotes to Montreal.
The Canadiens immediately demoted him to their minor league team in Newfoundland, the St. John's IceCaps.
Scott chronicled his journey in a story he penned on The Players' Tribune website, shedding light on how the NHL didn't want him playing in this new 3-on-3 format.
Commissioner Gary Bettman addressed Scott's selection on Saturday, saying "he wanted to be here and we're happy he is."
Bettman also met with Scott in Nashville to smooth things over.
Scott also got in a dig at NBC analyst and former NHL star Jeremy Roenick which sent his online stock even higher.
During an interview on the bench, Roenick apologized for comments he made about Scott not belonging to be at the game.
"It's not the first time you've been wrong, let's just say that," Scott told a stone-faced Roenick.
Bettman handed over the oversized check representing the winning team's haul.
Each player on the Pacific team will pocket close to $91,000 -- which works out to be about 15 percent of Scott's base NHL salary this season.
"You saw the fans but also his teammates and our team were so excited to see him win that,'' said Florida's Gerard Gallant, coach of the Atlantic team.
"He worked hard and has a lot of things going on in his life right now. But that was a real special moment."
As MVP, Scott also gets a new Honda minivan, something he said he asked his temporary teammates to donate to him if they won.
His wife Danielle, after all, is about to give birth to twins.
"I need it,'' he said. "I'm going to have four kids pretty soon."
Scott, who has five goals in 285 NHL games, scored twice in the Pacific's 9-6 victory over the Central team which set up a championship showdown against an Atlantic team featuring three members of the Florida Panthers.
In the championship period, Roberto Luongo stopped all 12 shots he faced in the opening 10 minutes before handing things over to Tampa Bay's Ben Bishop.
With 6:22 left, Anaheim's Corey Perry beat Bishop and, surprisingly based on the wide-open nature of the 3-on-3 session, that was it.
Although Perry scored later, Gallant and Jagr challenged it with a little help from celebrity coach Amy Grant and won, wiping the second goal off the books.
"I had to explain what we could get from the challenge,'' Gallant said. "It worked well, it was great. She really seemed to enjoy it. It was fun.''
The Atlantic, despite pulling Bishop and going 4-on-3 for the final 90 seconds, couldn't beat Anaheim's John Gibson and the All-Star win belonged to Scott and his Pacific teammates.It was a great moment, obviously, one not lost on the guys from the other side.
"As much as I hate to lose, if I ever wanted to lose a game, I'm glad we lost [Sunday],'' Jagr said.
"It's a great story. Everyone thought it would be bad for hockey and it turned out to be one of the best stories in hockey. He truly deserved it. The fans voted for him and he played good. The [NHL] probably doesn't know what good he did."
Said Luongo: "He deserves it, popped in a couple in the first game. I can't imagine what it means for him to be here. We're all happy for him that he got a chance to win this. It was a fairytale ending.''
The Panthers got into the championship period -- the All-Star Game was broken up into three, 20-minute periods with the league broken up into its four divisions -- by winning the opener 4-3 over the Metropolitan.
Of the four goals, two were scored by Florida players as Jagr tied the score at 2 before Aaron Ekblad tied it at 3.
Montreal's P.K. Subban, who impersonated Jagr in Saturday's Skills Competition, gave the Atlantic its first and final lead with 4:38 left.
"I thought it was outstanding, the guys worked hard," Gallant said. "I didn't think it was going to be that competitive but the guys didn't want to make any mistakes."
-- Luongo and Washington goalie Braden Holtby met Sunday but won't face each other Tuesday when the Panthers visit the Capitals.
Both Luongo and Holtby, favored to be Vezina Trophy contenders, will both take the night off.