MONTREAL -- Already handicapped with their starting goalie on injured reserve, the Florida Panthers began a grueling Canadian tour Sunday missing a key component of their offense.
Jonathan Huberdeau had played in all 81 games since beginning his career last season. A swollen foot from a shot in the third period of Friday's win over Washington kept him from performing in his hometown.
That didn't prevent the Panthers from getting this difficult four-game stretch off on the right foot with a 2-1 victory over the Canadiens. They have won three in a row for the first time this season and five of their past six.
Scott Clemmensen looked comfortable in his second consecutive start in place of injured Tim Thomas. He made 17 saves to improve to 7-1 in his career against Montreal.
"The team is playing very well right now. I think that was the key to the game -- not many shots, quality shots," Clemmensen said. "We're playing with so much confidence right now. It's a lot of fun to be in there playing with these guys."
Clemmensen had to withstand the pressure of back-to-back penalties late in the third period, including 35 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage. And then a furious assault by the Canadiens with six skaters in the final minute, but he had plenty of help.
"I don't know how many shots actually made it to the net. Our guys were diving in front and getting good sticks out there deflecting passes. Selling out that way, that's how you win games," he said.
Mike Weaver blocked several shots in the final minute, along with Jesse Winchester.
"When I don't have to make a save, it sure makes it a lot easier," Clemmensen said.
It was the Panthers' first win in Montreal since March 27, 2012. The Canadiens won all three meetings last season.
For the Panthers, it was another impressive performance in a difficult place for visitors to win. With 24 Stanley Cup championship banners and a bevy of retired jerseys of players such as Maurice "Rocket" Richard hanging from the rafters, there is a sense of being in a hockey shrine, even though the Bell Centre has only been around since 1996.
"Looking at all the banners, it's cool seeing all the history. It's definitely a game I looked forward to at the beginning of the year," rookie Nick Bjugstad said.
Bjugstad made his first visit memorable, giving the Panthers a 2-0 lead at 7:11 of the second period with his sixth goal. Streaking alone down the right side of the Montreal zone, he took a lead pass from Tomas Fleischmann and rifled it past Peter Budaj on the glove side.
That came less than three minutes after the Panthers broke the scoreless spell when Winchester took a feed out front from Tomas Kopecky. Winchester's snap shot from 10 feet was his fifth of the season, a career high. He had four with Ottawa in 2010-11 in 72 games.
The Canadiens' 380th consecutive sellout crowd gave their team an earful of boos after the period.
The Panthers did have one significant advantage. The Canadiens played at Long Island on Saturday night, winning 1-0 in overtime. They spent a couple of hours on the tarmac at JFK International Airport and didn't get home until the wee hours of Sunday morning.
The Canadiens responded with a power-play goal early in the third period when Alex Galchenyuk slapped in the second rebound. With Sean Bergenheim off for interference, Clemmensen stopped a long shot by P.K. Subban and the first rebound, but couldn't control it.
The Panthers did a better job later when Weaver and Scottie Upshall went off with overlapping minors.
"After they scored that power-play goal they got momentum. They kept coming, they kept coming. We had a couple bad turnovers and that put us on our heels. But then we found it," defenseman Dmitry Kulokov said.
They did it while playing shorthanded on defense the last two periods after Eric Gudbranson left with a lower-body injury after taking a hard hit in the corner. The extent of his injury is not known, but he was limping after the game.
"You saw the character there. When you're blocking shots like that you know your team's doing a lot of the right things. I think we saw a lot of commitment there in the third period on the 5-on-3," interim coach Peter Horachek said.
"Subban was just teeing it up every chance he had. It's a really good, positive team-building thing when you see guys putting it on the line and putting their bodies in front of it."
Being from the Montreal area, missing this game was extra disappointing to Huberdeau. He left the morning skate early for treatment, but was hopeful of playing. His foot was swollen; he got his skate on but was unable to skate effectively.
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