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Panthers Victorious Over Penguins

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers

Cats Win 5-3 in Pittsburgh

Chris Gratton scored his 16th goal to lead Florida to its seventh straight victory in a 5-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.

Five different players scored for the Panthers, who overcame John LeClair's 400th career goal for Pittsburgh.

The Panthers, which are 10-1-1 in their last 12, moved into 10th place in the Eastern Conference standings, six points behind eighth-place Montreal.

Nathan Horton, Gary Roberts, Rostislav Olesz and Juraj Kolnik also scored for Florida.

Gratton had his 16th two minutes into the game when he took a pass from ex-Penguin Jon Sim and fired a slap shot past Marc-Andre Fleury while in the left-wing circle. Sim had two assists in the contest.

Horton gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead with less than four minutes to play in the first period with a power play goal, his 25th.

Roberts scored his 13th to make it 3-0 Florida on a rebound of an Olli Jokinen shot 23 seconds into the second period. Jokinen has an assist in three consecutive contests.

Fleury's night was over when Olesz scored his eighth 10 minutes later.

Pittsburgh staged a late rally, started by LeClair's tally. It came with 3:01 to play in the seond period and was a goal not unlike many of the 399 that preceded it.

While on the power play, LeClair collected a rebound from a Noah Welch shot from the point, spun and flipped a backhander past Roberto Luongo. It was LeClair's 18th of the season.

Andy Hilbert got a goal midway through the final period for the Penguins to cut the deficit to 4-2. Kolnik's shot into an empty net with 1:11 sealed the victory for the Panthers, even though Kostantin Koltsov scored for Pittsburgh in the closing seconds.

Notes: The Penguins were 19-11-3 against Florida from the Panthers franchise's inception in 1993 through the 2000-01 season. Pittsburgh is 1-12-2 versus Florida since, including 0-2 this season. ... Penguins D Eric Cairns served the third and final game of his suspension for spearing Zdeno Chara in Ottawa last week. ... Welch, a rookie, will be sent back to the NHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to make room for Cairns. He had four points in his first three games this week. ... Florida C Jozef Stumpel, who had seven points in his last four games, left the game late in the second period with a hip flexor injury.

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