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Gionta, Canadiens clip Panthers

Feb 3, 2011 - 4:08 AM
Montreal, QC (Sports Network) - Brian Gionta posted the eventual game-winning goal in the third period as Montreal clipped Florida, 3-2, at Bell Centre.

Jeff Halpern and Tomas Plekanec also scored for the Canadiens, who picked up a narrow home victory on the heels of a shootout win at Washington on Tuesday.

Alex Auld made 33 saves to post his first win since January 11.

"I knew I had to have a better outing than my last start here," Auld said about being pulled after letting a 4-0 lead to Calgary slip away. "I was focused and looking forward to tonight. It was a lot of fun, the guys played great. It was a good team win."

Stephen Weiss and Scott Timmins tallied for the Panthers, who stumbled to their seventh loss in eight tries.

Tomas Vokoun played well in defeat, stopping 38-of-41 shots.

The Habs took a 2-1 lead at the 5:46 mark of the third period, when Gionta tripped over Vokoun and Plekanec's shot deflected off a body in front and headed into the net.

Gionta then upped the advantage to 3-1 when he managed to poke a loose puck at the right post by a prone Vokoun at 11:32.

"You don't have much there. You're on the goal line and you try to bank it in," Gionta said about his eventual deciding score. "This time, I got the lucky bounce. It's how we wanted to start the second half. We got the points we needed on both nights."

Florida went with an extra skater while on the power play with well over four minutes to play and the move finally paid off after the advantage when Weiss converted a Michael Frolik rebound with 2:10 to go.

Vokoun was called to the bench once more but the Canadiens had the better of the chances toward the empty net.

"It's tough to win by one goal. We did score near the end but we can't expect to win these games on the road when they're back-to-back," said Vokoun about consecutive road defeats to Toronto and Montreal." We played hard but couldn't score against their second stringer."

Florida opened up the scoring 7 1/2 minutes into the contest, when Timmins deposited a Rostislav Olesz backhand pass into a half-open net. It was the 21- year-old's first NHL goal.

Montreal evened the score at 4:50 of the second period when Halpern bunted a backhander from P.K. Subban past Vokoun.

Game Notes

Montreal has won two of three over Florida this season and eight of 11 since the start of the 2008-09 campaign...The Canadiens have also beaten the Panthers in five of the last six matchups in Montreal...Subban and Max Pacioretty tallied two helpers each for the Habs.