SUNRISE, Fla. – Backup goalie Chris Driedger stopped 33 shots, Mike Hoffman had a goal and an assist, and the Florida Panthers broke their eight-game home losing streak Saturday with a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens.
On a night when Roberto Luongo's number was retired, the former Florida goalie gave the team a pep talk during a pregame ceremony — and the Panthers took it to heart.
“We have to believe in ourselves right now and enjoy the moment. Work your hearts out,” the 40-year-old Luongo told players, sitting behind him on the home bench, shortly before his No. 1 became the first Panthers jersey displayed in the arena’s rafters.
Lucas Wallmark, MacKenzie Weegar and Jonathan Huberdeau also scored for Florida. Aaron Ekblad had two assists for the Panthers, who are 6-10-3 since the All-Star break.
The win moved Florida three points behind idle Toronto for third place in the Atlantic Division – with the Panthers owning a game in hand. They are also three points out of a wild-card spot.
“I thought we had a workmanlike type of game, more businesslike than we've had recently,” coach Joel Quenneville said. "We took that awful stretch we've had here and turned it into a different situation when you look at where we're sitting."
Jake Evans scored and Charlie Lindgren made 28 saves, but the Canadiens lost their second straight.
Making just his 14th NHL appearance, Driedger (6-2-1) made his best save by denying Max Domi on a breakaway at 4:37 of the second period.