SUNRISE, Fla. – Carter Verhaeghe scored twice in Florida’s franchise-record, seven-goal first period and the Panthers beat the Montreal Canadiens 9-5 on Thursday night.
Florida scored six goals in the second period against Boston on April 5, 2000. Against Montreal, the Panthers came just shy of tying the franchise record for goals in a game set in 1997, going scoreless in the third period.
The teams combined for 10 first-period goals to tie the NHL record for goals in a first period. It also was the fastest first 10 goals in an NHL game, with Florida getting the 10th goal at 13:18.
“I have never seen anything like that. In 25 years, never seen that many goals,’’ Florida coach Paul Maurice said. “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. It was almost Twilight Zone: Every puck went in.”
Aaron Ekblad also scored twice for Florida, helping the Panthers pull within three points of the final wild-card spot. They are 4-0-1 in their last five.
Ekblad, Colin White, Gustav Forsling, Ryan Lomberg and Sam Reinhart also scored for Florida as the Panthers led 7-3 after one. Florida padded its lead with goals from Ekblad and Matthew Tkachuk in the second period.
Montreal defenseman Mike Matheson scored 16 seconds in, and Florida led 2-1 just over three minutes later.
“If you came 30 minutes late, you missed it,’’ Tkachuk said. “Hope people did not get stuck in traffic. We definitely have some things to clean up but a win is a win. … We did score a ton of goals, so we did a lot of good things as well.”
Michael Pezzetta, Rem Pitlick, Anthony Richard and Rafael Harvey-Pinard also scored for Montreal.
Sergei Bobrovsky made 24 saves for Florida.
Montreal replaced goalie Sam Montembeault after Florida scored three goals on its first six shots of the game. Jake Allen came in and ended up giving up six goals on 17 shots before Montreal brought back Montembeault to finish the game.
“Big win and one of the wildest games I have ever been a part of,’’ Verhaeghe said. “We found a way and it turned out to be a good one.”
NOTES: Florida is the first NHL team to score seven goals in the first period since the Hartford Whalers on Oct. 19, 1985. ... Florida sent G Alex Lyon to its AHL team in Charlotte to get some playing time this weekend. The Panthers brought up Mack Guzda to backup Bobrovsky.
Canadiens: At Tampa Bay on Saturday night.
Panthers: Host New Jersey on Saturday night. ___