SUNRISE (CBSMiami/AP) — The Florida Panthers are beginning to make some headway in the Eastern Conference standings and have their backup goalie to thank for it.
James Reimer is earning his teammates’ confidence with starter Roberto Luongo on the shelf.
Reimer stopped 37 shots for his second shutout in three games and the Panthers beat the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 on Saturday night.
It’s been a busy month for Reimer since Luongo was injured Dec. 4, and he capped December with another stellar show.
He also beat Ottawa 1-0 a week ago with a 38-save effort. The Panthers won their fifth straight game, all with Reimer in goal.
“Now that it’s going good for us, it’s fun,” Reimer said. “A year can be a roller coaster, sometimes things go your way sometimes they don’t. You just have to take it in stride and enjoy it when it’s going well.”
Reimer allowed 12 goals in his first three appearances after he took over for Luongo but has allowed six goals in his past five games.
“When you’re feeling (confident), the puck’s big and you’re reading plays,” Reimer said. “It’s just doing the little things that can attribute to (success).”
Vincent Trocheck and Connor Brickley scored for the Panthers. Brickley also had an assist.
The Panthers’ winning streak is their longest since they won five straight from Feb. 11-20.
“It’s great. You always have a smile on your face,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. “You come to the rink and you feel energized, just like a player, coaches are the same. It’s nice to see the room is in a good place.”
Carey Price made 32 saves for Montreal, which has lost four straight. The Canadiens have been held to one goal or fewer in four straight games.
“I would say we looked like a team that played three (games) in four (nights),” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. “Having said that, again, you don’t score goals, you don’t win hockey games.”
Trocheck put the Panthers ahead 2-0 with 8:11 left in the third period. MacKenzie Weegar passed across the slot to Trocheck, who fired the puck past Price.
“Obviously, we’ve won five in a row and we’re doing some good things,” Trocheck said. “At the same time, we haven’t played a full 60 minutes like we want. It’s just a matter of putting it all together and playing a full three periods.”
Montreal captain Max Pacioretty has gone 12 games without a goal and he has only one in the last 21.
“We’re all just trying to support each other and work hard every day to get out of it,” Pacioretty said. “I’m sure no one in this room has really had to deal with this adversity. I sure haven’t in my career.”
Brickley gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead 4:02 into the second. Mark Pysyk took a shot that bounced off Brickley in the left circle. Brickley grabbed the loose puck, spun around and shot the puck past Price.
NOTES: Canadiens D David Schlemko returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games. … Trocheck leads the Panthers with 13 points in 14 December games. … Panthers forward Radim Vrbata missed his second straight game with an illness. … Josiane Huberdeau, sister of Panthers C Jonathan Huberdeau, sang the Canadian national anthem before the game.
Canadiens: Host San Jose on Tuesday night.
Panthers: Visit Minnesota on Tuesday night.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)