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Panthers 2, Canadiens 1 @NHLdotcom

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) - Roberto Luongo still has the perfect approach to stopping penalty shots.

Joe Nieuwendyk scored twice and Luongo stopped Alex Kovalev's penalty shot with 2:57 left, preserving the Florida Panthers' 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night.

The Panthers are unbeaten at home in regulation in their last six games (5-0-1), and have 12 of their 15 overall wins on home ice.

Kovalev was awarded a penalty shot after being hooked by Lukas Krajicek on a breakaway. Luongo then made a glove save on Kovalev's backhanded shot on the penalty shot. Luongo has not allowed a goal on nine penalty shots he has faced in his career.

``To go 9-for-9 in my career, there has to be a little luck involved,'' Luongo said. ``So I can thank the Lord when I make the save. I know (Kovalev) has great hands, so I just wanted to be as patient as possible on him and wait until the last second to make a play.''

Kovalev, who has eight goals in 23 games, skated in, faked a quick forehand shot and then took a backhander. Luongo stopped it, the fifth penalty shot he has faced this season.

``I had a few things on my mind, but when you get down to it, it's almost impossible to do anything,'' Kovalev said. ``I tried to squeeze a backhand in there, but he was all over it.''

Luongo, who stopped 27 shots, also made a diving stick save of Sheldon Souray's wrist shot on a power play with 7:13 left.

Montreal's Jose Theodore had 28 saves in his second game back after missing four due to a knee injury. He stopped 41 shots in a win against Tampa Bay in his return Wednesday night, snapping the Canadiens' nine-game road winless streak.

Nieuwendyk's second goal, seventh overall, gave Florida a 2-1 lead at 18:03 of the second. Helped by a screen by Gary Roberts, Nieuwendyk wristed the puck from the right circle past Theodore just 2 seconds after a Panthers power play had ended.

``We dug ourselves a hole (to start the season) and we're trying to climb out of it,'' Nieuwendyk said. ``We have no choice but to keep winning at home. Now we have to go out on the road and get some points.''

Nieuwendyk opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 4:58 of the first. Roberts passed the puck through the crease, between Theodore and defenseman Craig Rivet, and to Nieuwendyk who shuttled the puck into the net.

Niklas Sundstrom's sixth goal of the season tied the score 1-1 at 18:20 of the first.

``We battled hard, but on a night like tonight, it wasn't good enough,'' Sundstrom said.

Olli Jokinen extended his point-scoring streak to nine games with an assist on Nieuwendyk's second-period goal.

Nieuwendyk, a 19-year veteran, played in his 1,200th career game. He nearly had a third goal, but Theodore robbed him with a leg save in the first period.

Florida killed Montreal's 4-minute power play midway through the second period after Stephen Weiss received a double-minor for high-sticking Andrei Markov.

Notes: Florida had its second sellout of the season, with the first coming opening night against Atlanta. ... Canadiens captain and leading scorer Saku Koivu (groin) missed a fifth straight game. He was listed as day-to-day. ... Montreal won the previous two meetings this season in overtime. The teams play again March 2 in Florida. ... The Panthers start a season-high five-game road trip Sunday at Buffalo. ... Montreal concludes a five-game road trip Saturday at Carolina.

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