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Canadiens edge Panthers 3-2 in OT, clinch playoff berth

MONTREAL (AP) — Max Pacioretty scored in overtime as the Montreal Canadiens clinched a playoff berth with a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.

Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk scored in regulation for the Canadiens, and Carey Price stopped 21 shots for his 41st win of the season.

Aleksander Barkov had a pair of goals for the Panthers, while Roberto Luongo made 21 saves in defeat.

After a scoreless third period, Pacioretty scored the winner on the power play just seconds after Florida’s Vincent Trocheck took a penalty for high sticking.

The Canadiens have clinched a playoff spot for three consecutive years, and have appeared in seven of the last eight postseasons.

Near the end of a mostly uneventful first period, defenseman Greg Pateryn levelled Florida’s Jimmy Hayes with an emphatic hip check in front of the players’ bench. Hayes took a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play. As the penalty expired, Eller jumped on a loose puck to Luongo’s left and buried his first goal in seven games at 17:37. Jeff Petry got an assist on the goal — his first point with Montreal.

At 6:09 of the second, Barkov’s nifty backhand shot beat Price to make it 1-1 after a clever behind-the-back pass by Jonathan Huberdeau sent Barkov in alone.

Huberdeau fed Barkov again at 13:11 — this time a redirect over Price’s shoulder — for the Panthers’ first power-play goal in their last seven games. Montreal put an end to its own power-play woes less than two minutes later when Galchenyuk tied it at 2, beating Luongo for his 20th of the year.

Brendan Gallagher came inches from giving the Canadiens a 3-2 lead with three minutes on the clock in the third, but Luongo made an acrobatic save to keep the puck from crossing the goal line.

NOTES: Montreal’s Tom Gilbert (upper body) missed his third consecutive game. Devante Smith-Pelley and Manny Malhotra were healthy scratches. Brian Flynn dressed for the first time in six games. … The Canadiens’ P.K. Subban played his 200th consecutive game. He last missed a game on Jan. 30, 2013. … Barkov recorded the first multi-goal game of his career. .. Montreal’s Alexei Emelin had five blocked shots.

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