SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- The Florida Panthers had problems holding leads during
their six-game winless streak. A rally on Friday night ended the skid.
Viktor Kozlov, Matt Cullen and Juraj Kolnik scored third-period goals to
help the Panthers beat Montreal 4-2 for their first victory since Nov. 24.
Olli Jokinen also scored for the Panthers, 0-2-3-1 during their skid. The
Panthers blew leads in four of those games, including three advantages of two
goals or more.
"I think we've really improved as a team," Cullen said. "Tonight was a
real good job of sticking to our plan and not changing things after two
periods. We finally got the bounces."
Richard Zednik and Saku Koivu scored first-period goals to give Montreal a
The Canadiens had been 8-0 this season when leading after the first period.
"It's tough to explain," Koivu said. "The effort, for some reason, wasn't
there. After getting a 2-0 lead, maybe we thought it was going to be an easy
The Canadiens lost for only the second time in eight games. Montreal, which
beat the Rangers on Wednesday, has not won consecutive games since their sixth
and seventh games of the season.
"If we want to move up in the standings, we're going to have to start
winning consecutive games," Canadiens coach Claude Julien said.
Florida set a season high with 49 shots and allowed 31. Montreal native
Roberto Luongo made 29 saves for the Panthers, and Jose Theodore stopped 45
Cullen got the winner at 6:15 of the third, during a delayed Montreal
penalty, when his wrist shot deflected in off Canadiens defenseman Francis
Kolnik provided some insurance at 9:24 when he rebounded Cullen's
back-hander on net from a sharp angle.
"It's about time," said Kolnik, who scored his first goal in six games.
"The last couple of games I've been trying to put the puck on the net. I only
got one shot tonight but it went in."
Kozlov tied it 2-2 at 2:42 of the third period, three seconds into a Florida
power play. After Montreal defenseman Stephane Quintal lost control of the puck
to the side of the net, Kozlov beat Theodore with a wrist shot.
"We deserved this game and I think everybody in the dressing room felt we
deserved this game," Florida coach Rick Dudley said. "But I just said between
periods, `We will win this game if we do exactly what we've been doing' and
that's what they did."
Jokinen started the Florida rally at 5:00 of the second when he grabbed a
rebound and shot the puck into an open net.
"We got a couple mistakes and they scored," Jokinen said. "We kept it up
after the first period and never looked back. We saw some of the best hockey
this team has played in a while in this building."
Zednik opened the scoring 6:07 in when he took Mike Ribeiro's pass from
behind the net and slipped a shot through Luongo's pads.
Koivu made it 2-0 at 10:36 when he scored just four seconds into a Montreal
power play. With Lyle Odelein off for cross-checking, Koivu rebounded Andrei
Markov's slap shot from the point past Luongo.
"It's unacceptable," Theodore said. "We grab a 2-0 lead and I don't know
if the players thought it was going to be 7 or 8-0 and guys were going to have
a couple of points. That's not our style. We didn't play with discipline."
Each team came close to scoring in the fourth minute of the game. Florida
right wing Marcus Nilson's slap shot deflected off Bouillon's stick and went
off the crossbar. Twenty seconds later, Montreal's Chad Kilger took a shot from
the front of the net that hit the post to the right of Luongo.
"It's not only disappointing, it's unacceptable," Julien said.