Montreal increased their lead in the Atlantic division with a 6-2 domination over Florida on Thursday night. The Canadiens bookended the game with three goals in the first period and the third period. They had a 33-31 edge in shots on gal and won the faceoff battle 35-27. montreal now sits at 97 points, six points clear of second-place Ottawa. On the other end, it gave a devastating blow to the Panthers. They've officially been eliminated from playoff contention with the loss as they can only reach a maximum of 87 points -- one shy of where Boston currently is at.

Panthers' playoff hopes end

Florida ended the bleeding with right wing Reilly Smith (35 pts) drilling a goal 10:41 into the second period.

He's been a bright spot for the slumping Panthers with four goals in the past six games. Defender Michael Matheson (16 pts) delivered his sixth goal 8:45 into the third period, answering another goal from the Canadiens earlier. Florida has now lost three consecutive games.

Goaltender Reto Berra picked up his third loss of the season (0-3-0). He remained in the game throughout as the Panthers was empty-handed on goalies with two of them out with injuries. Montreal took advantage by tossing 17 shots on goal against him in the first period.

Byron nets two for Canadiens

Left wing Paul Byron (40 pts) scored two of the first three goals for Montreal in the game. He hit the first one 7:24 into the first period and then nailed the eventual game-winner roughly six minutes later.

This was his second two-goal game in the last 10 contests, going back to a win over Edmonton on March 12th. Center Tomas Plekanec (27 pts) had the goal sandwiched between Byron's makes.

Other notables include right wing Brendan Gallagher (28 pts) racking up four points with one assist and three goals.

All nine penalties in the game happened in the second period with the Canadiens committing six of them. Even with that help, Florida could only manage a goal out of it all.

Up next, Montreal takes on Tampa Bay on the road while Florida will also be away from home when they take on Boston.

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