SUNRISE, Fla. – Scott Clemmensen got the best of the Montreal Canadiens yet again.
Brian Campbell, Aleksander Barkov and Dmitry Kulikov each scored goals to lift the Florida Panthers over the Canadiens 4-1 on Sunday night.
Sean Bergenheim added an empty-net goal with 17 seconds left, and Tom Gilbert had two assists.
Clemmensen stopped 21 shots for the Panthers, who broke a three-game losing streak and beat Montreal for the second time this month. Clemmensen is 8-1 against the Canadiens.
“I’m aware of it but I think it’s a little bit of a coincidence,” Clemmensen said. “It’s just a team that we’ve matched up well against for some reason. I’ve been fortunate in these games against them to get a lot of help in front of me.”
Clemmensen started in place of Tim Thomas, who is being held out to give him more time to recover from a groin injury that has forced him to miss eight games.
“I think it was the right decision,” Panthers coach Peter Horachek said. “The more time we can give him now, we won’t have a reoccurrence.”
Brandon Prust scored for the Canadiens, and Peter Budaj made 21 saves. Montreal lost for the first time in three games.
Florida stretched its lead to 3-1 on Barkov’s goal in the second period. Gilbert’s shot from the slot was tipped in at 14:29 by Barkov, who has seven points in six games.
The Canadiens had a goal disallowed for the second time in the game with 12:37 left. Danny Briere swept a loose puck into the net, but it was ruled that Alex Galchenyuk prevented Clemmensen from playing his position before the shot.
“I think it was a good call. I was in the crease, and the guy came in behind me and kind of pushed me out,” Clemmensen said.
The Canadiens also appeared to score with 6:34 remaining in the first, but the goal was waved off because Brian Gionta was called for knocking the puck down with a high stick at the blue line.
“I think I went my first 11 years without getting a goal called back on me,” Clemmensen said. “This is my 13th year pro, and last year I had one and already a couple this year.”
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien strongly disagreed with the calls.
“It’s really frustrating. The first goal that they refused, Gionta said it never touched the stick,” Therrien said. “The second goal, it was clearly a crosscheck by them against Galchenyuk. So it’s one of those nights.”
Other players wouldn’t blame the disallowed goals for the defeat.
“It’s deflating, but that’s not why we lost,” Gionta said. “We didn’t play a good all-around game. They deserved to win. We didn’t have the effort we needed.”
Montreal tied it 1-1 in the second period on Prust’s goal. Prust picked up the puck while sliding through the slot and wristed a shot on net. The puck deflected in off Clemmensen at 2:56.
“I think it went in off his blocker,” Prust said. “You just turn and fire the puck. When you’re in front of the net, you just shoot it.”
The Panthers reclaimed the lead less than two minutes later. A shot by Campbell bounced off Budaj and popped up in the air over his head. The puck hit the ice in front and went in off Budaj’s skate to make it 2-1. The goal was originally credited to Barkov, and Campbell didn’t realize the goal belonged to him until after the game.
“I was in position, and it went straight up,” Budaj said. “It’s tough luck and a bad rebound. I’d like to have that one back.”
The Panthers took a 1-0 lead on Kulikov’s goal in the first period during 4-on-4 play. Kulikov took a pass from Tomas Fleischmann in the left circle and beat Budaj on the stick side at 6:10. The goal was Kulikov’s first in 28 games.
NOTES: Florida forward Tomas Kopecky played in his 500th NHL game. … Budaj got the start over Carey Price, who played Saturday night at Tampa Bay. … The attendance of 19,891 was Florida’s largest crowd of the season.