Montreal Canadiens left wing Benoit Pouliot (57) tries to control the puck as Florida Panthers defenseman Dennis Seidenberg (4) defends in the first period during an NHL hockey game in Sunrise, Fla. Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Lynne Sladky)
SUNRISE, Fla. - One goal was a shot at glory, while the other wasn't so flashy. That mattered little to Shawn Matthias and the Florida Panthers, who needed them both.
Matthias scored twice in the third period to lift the Panthers to a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night. Tomas Vokoun, who was making his 13th consecutive start for Florida, made 16 saves. Jaroslav Halak stopped 27 shots for Montreal. Tomas Plekanec scored for the Canadiens.
"It's an important two points," Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said. "They beat us out on a technicality for a playoff spot last year, a percentage point. They've beaten us two times previously. We knew it was going to be a close, low-scoring game. I really liked the way we stuck to the game plan. I thought we really limited their chances."
Vokoun entered Tuesday's game having stopped a total of 66 shots in his last two home games, both shutouts. Halak, meanwhile, made 32 saves against the New York Rangers on Saturday to earn his third shutout of the season.
"We got outworked tonight, they were more determined than us, and we had some very poor execution," said Montreal coach Jacques Martin, who in the summer left his job as the Panthers general manager to coach the Canadiens. "You're winning the hockey game 1-0 in the third period, and a bad turnover in the offensive zone, that's not acceptable."
The Panthers took a 2-1 lead at 12:59 in the third period on Matthias' second goal. Halak blocked the initial shot, but Matthias pushed in the rebound. Michal Repik, who was called up from Rochester (AHL) on Tuesday, had an assist on the goal.
"It was a nice garbage goal," Matthias said. "That's what you have to do, I guess. ... We'll take it and we'll take the win."
Matthias tied it at 1 at 3:01 in the third on a penalty shot, beating Halak with a wrist shot that went high into the net.
"I was just thinking about not embarrassing myself," Matthias said.
It was the first time the Panthers had scored on a penalty shot since Jan. 29, 2009, when Radek Dvorak scored at home against the Canadiens. The Panthers won that game 5-1.
"I was excited," Matthias said. "I really wanted to take it. I felt comfortable with the move I was going to pull and the goalie bit on it and I got lucky and put it upstairs."
Plekanec tipped in the puck on a power play to spoil Vokoun's bid for a third straight home shutout and put Montreal up 1-0 at 18:47 in the second period. Until Plekanec's goal, Vokoun hadn't allowed a goal at the BankAlantic Center since the first period on Jan. 16, when the Panthers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.
"We got some great efforts from some people, like Matthias, just what you need in games like this," DeBoer said.
NOTES: Canadiens D Paul Mara (upper-body injury) was a scratch. ... The start time for Florida's home game against the New York Islanders on Sunday was moved up to 4 p.m. because of the Pro Bowl in Miami on Sunday night.