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Streaking Panthers cruise past Canadiens

PA Stats Inc
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The Hockey News
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Streaking Panthers cruise past Canadiens

PA Stats Inc
By:

By Rick Menning
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SUNRISE, Florida (Ticker) -- If the Florida Panthers had things
their way, the calendar always would read January.

Stephen Weiss recorded a goal and two assists as the Panthers
ended a losing streak against the Montreal Canadiens and
maintained their red-hot play this month with a 5-1 victory on
Thursday.

Along with securing its second straight win since the All-Star
break, Florida snapped a five-game skid against Montreal.

Weiss and All-Star defenseman Jay Bouwmeester scored power-play
goals in the first period and Radek Dvorak converted on a
penalty shot midway through the third for the Panthers.

"A great all-around game," Weiss said. "We had the will and the
skill tonight."

Florida coach Peter DeBoer had nothing but high praise for the
team's effort.

"It was our best 60 minutes from a system point of view and how
we want to play going forward," DeBoer said. "There are not
many games when a coach can feel good about every component of
the game, but tonight, I felt that way."

Rookie Michael Frolik and Richard Zednik also tallied, Cory
Stillman collected three assists and Nathan Horton added two for
Florida, which improved to 7-1-3 in January.

"It's just unbelievable to be a part of this," Frolik said.
"I'm feeling more comfortable out there all the time. It's
really nice to be contributing to what's going on with this team
right now."

Robert Lang scored the lone goal for Montreal, which has dropped
four straight.

"Bad penalties, bad goals at the start. It's happened all too
often recently," Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said. "When we
face adversity, as we have lately, we seem to go backwards."

The Panthers capitalized on two of three power-play chances in
the first period to move ahead.

Just 21 seconds after Montreal defenseman Josh Gorges was called
for roughing, Bouwmeester netted his 11th goal by burying the
rebound of a shot by Weiss at 3:54 of the opening session. It
was Bouwmeester's eighth point in his last nine games.

"It's just a great feeling to come out of the (All-Star) break
and beat two teams that are ahead of us in the standings,"
Bouwmeester said of following up Tuesday's win over Philadelphia
with this one. "It says a lot about our character."

Weiss again was tenacious around the crease and managed to poke
the puck under sprawling All-Star goaltender Carey Price during
a flurry in front with 4:24 left in the period to double the
lead.

Price allowed five goals for the second straight outing and has
yet to regain his form after missing eight contests with a
sprained right ankle.

"I think we all didn't play our best," Price said. "We've got
to pull together. We can't start pointing fingers now or we'll
never dig ourselves out of the hole."

"We just haven't been able to follow through on anything,"
Carbonneau said. "I thought we came in ready to play, but the
result wasn't there."

Florida got into penalty trouble of its own late in the period
as Montreal entered the second with a two-man advantage.

The Panthers successfully killed the first penalty, but the
Canadiens' persistence in the offensive zone paid off as Lang
drilled a one-timer past netminder Tomas Vokoun 53 seconds into
the session for a power-play goal, his 17th tally of the season.

With 5:16 remaining in the middle period, Zednik managed to gain
control of the puck while falling to the ice and knock it past
Price to give Florida a 3-1 cushion. Dvorak netted his eighth
of the season on a penalty shot with 8:47 to go in the third,
and Frolik capped the scoring less than three minutes later with
his 11th tally.

Vokoun made 35 saves in improving to 6-1-2 in his last nine
games.

"We are playing with a lot of confidence right now," Vokoun
said. "(Philadelphia and Montreal) are two very good teams that
play smart hockey, and for us to get four points is a good
feeling."

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Streaking Panthers cruise past Canadiens