MONTREAL (AP) — Roberto Luongo stopped 28 shots for his third shutout of the season and 76th of his career, leading the Florida Panthers to a 2-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night.
Aaron Ekblad and Aleksander Barkov scored to help the Panthers inch closer to a playoff position, pulling three points behind idle new Jersey for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. Florida has two games in hand on the Devils.
Antti Niemi finished with 38 saves for Montreal, which was shut out for the second straight game and 12th time this season — including three against the Panthers. The Canadiens were coming off a 4-0 loss at Toronto on Saturday.
The opening 10 minutes saw two fights, one of which had Ekblad sparring with Nicolas Deslauriers. It may have fired up the big defenseman because he stole a puck from Michael McCarron, deked past defenseman Jeff Petry and beat Niemi with a move to the backhand for an unassisted goal with 1:29 left in the opening period.
Jacob De La Rose thought he had tied it for Montreal 17 seconds later, but a video review showed Alex Galchenyuk was offside by a toenail and it was waived off.
Barkov got his 26th of the season at 6:23 of the third when his shot from the left side went in off Montreal forward Logan Shaw.
Star goalie Carey Price returned to the Montreal lineup after concussion suffered Feb. 20. He backed up Niemi.
Panthers: At Ottawa on Tuesday night as they continue a stretch of seven of eight on the road.
Canadiens: At Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.