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Canadiens Sneak Past Cats

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers

Cats Hit the Road to Take on Carolina Friday Night

Alexei Kovalev scored with 5:49 left in the third period and Cristobal Huet made 24 saves for his third shutout of the season to help the Montreal Canadiens beat the Florida Panthers 1-0 on Thursday night.

Montreal native Roberto Luongo stopped 26 shots for the Panthers.

The Canadiens, eighth in the Eastern Conference, improved to 6-3-2 in their last 11 games. They haven't lost in regulation in their last seven, going 5-0-2.

Florida, which played at home for the first time since Feb. 3, lost in regulation for only the second time in its last 11 games (6-2-3).

Montreal won the season series 3-1, with all four games decided by one goal.

Kovalev scored after taking a cross-ice pass from Christopher Higgins in front of the net. Kovalev deked center Gregory Campbell before beating Luongo with a wrist shot over the right shoulder.

Florida's Jozef Stumpel hit the post on a wrist shot in the final 10 seconds.

Florida almost took the lead earlier in the third period after Huet stopped Juraj Kolnik and the puck began sliding toward the open net. But defenseman Mathieu Dandenault cleared the puck before it reached the goal line.

Montreal had a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:18 late in the first period, but Kovalev wasted the best scoring chance when he shot wide on a one-timer from the side.

Florida's best chance in the first two periods came on Kolnik's shot from the front of the net that was gloved by Huet.

Notes: Because his Panthers mask didn't make its way back from Italy, Luongo wore his Team Canada mask for the second straight game. ... The Canadiens have four more games left on their six-game trip, which matches their longest of the season. They are 2-0 on their current trip after going 2-4 on their first six-game trip. ... The Panthers, who won at Tampa Bay on Tuesday night, haven't won consecutive games since Jan. 9 and 12. ... Montreal signed D James Sanford, currently playing for Hamilton in the AHL, to a two-year contract.

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