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Panthers blitz Canadiens for 7 goals in 1st, win 9-5 thriller

Panthers blitz Canadiens for 7 goals in 1st, win 9-5 thriller

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers became the sixth team in NHL history to score seven first-period goals Thursday night in a wild 9-5 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.

The teams tied an NHL record by combining for 10 goals in the opening period. It also was the fastest first 10 goals in an NHL game, with Florida getting the 10th goal at 13:18.

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.

“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.”

Carter Verhaeghe scored twice in the first period, and the Panthers also got goals from Aaron Ekblad, Colin White, Gustav Forsling, Ryan Lomberg and Sam Reinhart to take a 7-3 lead 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.

The Panthers are the first NHL team to score seven goals in the first period since the Hartford Whalers on Oct. 19, 1985.

“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, which pulled within three points of the final wild-card spot. The Panthers are 4-0-1 in their past five.

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.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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