Canadiens-Panthers: Maxim Lapierre Shines in Florida

Francois GendronSenior Writer IDecember 30, 2008

Maxim Lapierre registered his first NHL hat trick to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers.

Florida still represents the only NHL franchise to have a winning record over the Montreal Canadiens. Since the arrival of the Panthers, the Habs seem to always find a way to struggle, play a bad game, and lose to them.

But yesterday, Maxim Lapierre punched in three goals to dissipate his team's complexes over the Florida Panthers.

Into the second frame, Tomas Plekanec sent the Canadiens ahead by a goal with a nice shorthanded goal. But David Booth tied the game at two only short moments later.

But later on into this second period, Maxim Lapierre was jammed by Florida's goaltender, Craig Anderson, on a ''wrap around'' from behind the net. He took the puck again and tried the same move towards the other end of the net.

Anderson struggled to move towards the other end to fend off Lapierre for a second time. The goaltender looked like he was swimming in a pool while Maxim roofed the puck into Florida's net for his first goal of the game. The goal counted as the game-winner as Montreal never lost their lead from this point on.

The third period was once again highlighted by Maxim Lapierre. The hero of the evening received a pass from Guillaume Latendresse and sent a screened shot that went past Craig Anderson again. Anderson left the game for Tomas Vokoun after this goal.

Maxim Lapierre completed his hat trick in the last minute of the game when he stripped defense men Bryan McCabe of the puck on a great second effort to push the puck into the empty net.

Montreal has won the first two games of this four-game road trip, and play the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight.