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Panthers keep pace in playoff race with franchise-record goal burst

The Florida Panthers scored a record 7 first period goals against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday to keep playoff hopes alive.

SUNRISE, Fla. — The reigning Presidents' Trophy winners are making a serious push to get back in the playoff picture.

The Florida Panthers scored seven goals in the first period in a 9-5 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. The seven goals in the first period set a franchise record; Florida scored six in the second period against the Boston Bruins on April 5, 2000.

"I have never seen anything like that," said Panthers coach Paul Maurice. "In 25 years, never seen that many goals. There were more goals than chances to score and that is a rarity. All I can say is it affected the game for both teams, and I do not think anything on video is useful to the game of hockey."

While fans were chanting "we want 10" in the third period, what mattered most, according to Locked on Panthers host Armando Velez, was the two points earned in the standings.

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The Panthers are on a five-game point streak and sit three points back of the New York Islanders for the second wild card spot in the NHL's Eastern Conference.

Key to the recent surge is the play of Matthew Tkachuk, who leads the team in scoring with 91 points, 32 ahead of second-place Carter Verhaeghe.

Over his last three games, Tkachuk has recorded three goals and seven assists, averaging better than three points per game over that span.

On the flip side, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has a save percentage of .893 in March, and while the offensive outburst was entertaining, serious playoff teams shouldn't be giving up five goals to the Canadiens.

Florida's schedule won't get much easier, with a huge game against the New Jersey Devils on deck Saturday.

The reaction from Montreal to this game is always well worth checking out.

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