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Panthers hand Habs sixth straight loss

Oct 25, 2011 - 2:58 AM Montreal, QC (Sports Network) - Scottie Upshall tallied the deciding goal in the third period to give the Florida Panthers a 2-1 victory over the struggling Montreal Canadiens.

Tomas Fleischmann scored the other goal for Florida and Jacob Markstrom made 40 saves as the Panthers took their second straight win.

Erik Cole notched Montreal's lone goal, while Peter Budaj stopped 29-of-31 shots in his first start of the season for the Canadiens, who have lost six games in a row for the first time since February 6-17, 2007.

"We had a big game from [Budaj] but nobody likes losing. I'm tired of it," Cole said. "We have just got to find a way to get over the hump and we just have to be tougher in front of their net to get those type of goals."

Montreal took advantage of an early tripping penalty on Tomas Kopecky to take the lead. After setting up in the Panthers' zone, Raphael Diaz received a pass at the high slot and blasted a slap shot from the blue line. The puck went through a crowd and was deflected first by Max Pacioretty before glancing into the net off of Cole just 3:08 into the game.

But Florida knotted the game at one thanks to a power-play goal of its own late in the opening frame. Kris Versteeg gathered a dumped puck in the right corner and sent a pass out in front of the net, where Fleischmann sent a shot from between two defenders that trickled through the legs of Budaj and across the line with 4:01 left.

After failing to convert on several chances in the scoreless second period, Florida was able to take a one-goal advantage at the 5:02 mark of the third. Kopecky sent a pass from the right side boards across the ice to Dmitry Kulikov at the left point. Kulikov corralled the puck and sent a wrister towards the net, where Upshall deflected the chest-high shot past the glove of Budaj.

"Tonight's goals were just a couple of bounces in front and that was the difference," Upshall said.

Markstrom kept the puck out of the net on a flurry of shots by Montreal with a little over two minutes left in the game and a Jason Garrison hooking penalty with 50 seconds left gave the Canadiens a 6-on-4 advantage with the goalie pulled, but the Habs couldn't convert before the final horn sounded.

Game Notes

Montreal forward Scott Gomez sat out his second straight game with an upper- body injury...Montreal goaltender Jose Theodore has not played after leaving Saturday's game with a lower-body cramp...Florida improved to 3-2-0 on the road this season...Montreal fell to 0-3-2 at home.