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Canadiens 4, Panthers 1

The SportsXchange

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The surging Montreal Canadiens won their fifth straight game, defeating the Florida Panthers 4-1 on Saturday night at the BB&T Center.

Montreal, which has the longest active win streak in the Eastern Conference, now has 93 points. The only teams in the East with more points are the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Canadiens got solid goaltending from Carey Price, two goals from left winger Max Pacioretty and one from left winger Tomas Vanek in their victory over Florida.

Florida, which has just 62 points and has already been eliminated from the playoffs, lost for the ninth time in its past 12 games.

Panthers backup goaltender Dan Ellis, playing in place of injured starter Roberto Luongo (sore neck), took the loss.

Luongo, a Montreal native, was injured Thursday in a collision with Carolina Hurricanes left winger Radek Dvorak. The Panthers, however, do not believe Luongo's injury is serious.

Montreal opened the scoring with 9:13 left in the first period as Vanek followed his own shot to get his 27th goal of the season.

The Canadiens made it 2-0 with 2:57 left in the period on a play that featured exquisite passing. Center Daniel Briere threaded a cross-ice feed to defenseman Alexei Emelin, who got the puck to Pacioretty for the easy tap-in.

Florida had 10 shots in the period, failing to take advantage of two power plays within the first six minutes.

Montreal made it 3-0 with six minutes left in the second period on Pacioretty's second goal of the game and his 35th of the season. If anything, Pacioretty's second goal was even easier than his first. Passes by center David Desharnais and Vanek set up Pacioretty on the doorstep, just to the left of Ellis.

With 3:51 left in the second period, Florida made it 3-1 on a goal by right winger Brad Boyes. Sprung by a pass from left winger Sean Bergenheim, Boyes skated in on the right side and beat an unobstructed Price with a high shot.

But that was as close as the Panthers got the rest of the way, and Desharnais added an empty-net goal with 23 seconds left.

NOTES: Panthers G Scott Clemmensen was called up from the AHL to serve as G Dan Ellis' backup. ... Montreal C Tomas Plekanec, who scored twice Thursday in a win over Detroit, did not make the trip to Florida due to a "family matter." ... Saturday marked the return of D Mike Weaver, who played four years for the Panthers before being acquired by the Canadiens at the trading deadline. ... RW George Parros, who played for Florida last season, was also in Montreal's lineup. ... Florida C Jonathan Huberdeau (upper-body injury) hopes to resume skating next week and could play in the team's final five games. ... Montreal was without LW Travis Moen (concussion), LW Brandon Prust (upper body), D Josh Gorges (left hand), RW Dale Weise (upper body) and D Jarred Tinordi (healthy scratch). ... Florida was without D Tom Gilbert (groin), C Aleksander Barkov (knee), LW Tomas Kopecky (upper body) and D Alex Petrovic (upper body). ... Up next, the Panthers start a two-game road trip Monday at New Jersey. ... Montreal's four-game trip wraps up Tuesday at Tampa and Friday at Ottawa.

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