SUNRISE, FLORIDA (TICKER) —In just two games behind the bench, Claude Julien has gotten the Montreal Canadiens to play inspired hockey in the third period.
Before Julien’s debut on Saturday, Montreal had been outscored in the third period, 55-29. But the Canadiens got a late goal from Mariusz Czerkawski to secure a point before falling in overtime to Toronto, 3-2.
In this one, Montreal fell behind with 14:12 to go on a goal by Ivan Novoseltsev. But Doug Gilmour tied it on the power play at 14:33 and Bulis came through just 38 seconds later with his first game-winner since February 5.
“After the second period, we stopped skating, so we got ourselves in trouble and gave them a chance to get back in the game,” said Julien, who was coaching in the American Hockey League until Michel Therrien was fired Friday. “In the third period, it was just a matter of getting our feet moving again.”
“I think it has been a big problem in the third period over the last two weeks,” Canadiens captain Saku Koivu added. “We have lost several games in the last minute. We were strong in the third period tonight and we were able to get two points.”
After getting a pass from defenseman Patrick Traverse, Bulis moved over the Florida blue line, deked to his backhand and put a shot between the pads of goaltender Roberto Luongo to end the Canadiens’ nine-game road winless streak.
“It was a big win for us with the new coach,” Koivu said. “We haven’t played bad in the last couple of weeks. Tonight, we needed to get it done. Florida is right behind us in the standings and this was a big four-point game and a huge win.”
Both goalies made 31 saves, but Jose Theodore won the battle of Quebec natives.
“We wanted to do just like the last game we played, and that was the play hard (in the third period),” said Theodore, who squared his career mark against Florida at 4-4-2. “We were patient and got a big win.”
Olli Jokinen had the other goal for Florida, which was denied its first three-game winning streak of the season.
“It’s a lot more difficult to accept a game like tonight when you’ve got an opportunity to put it away,” Panthers coach Mike Keenan said. “We played very solid throughout, and to have it get away from you late is very difficult.”
Florida was coming off consecutive blankings for the first time in team history and Luongo extended his shutout streak to 144 minutes, 51 seconds before Petrov gave Montreal a 1-0 lead 91 seconds into the second period.
But the Panthers tied it on the power play five minutes later as Jokinen scored his team-leading 24th goal.
Novoseltsev gave Florida its first lead with his first goal in nine games, but high-sticking penalty on Lance Ward with 6:04 to go in the third period put Montreal in position to tie it.
“You don’t like to see a penalty taken at that point, particularly a penalty that took place in the neutral zone,” Keenan said. “You may be more willing to accept a penalty if it’s to stop a goal or in the defensive zone, when it’s a hard battle or you’re knocking people out of position. But in the neutral zone with a goal lead … you have to have the discipline to control your stick.”