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Panthers Rocket Past Habs


When Pavel Bure scores, the Florida Panthers are tough to beat. When the Russian Rocket scores multiple times, they are unbeatable.

Bure had two goals Wednesday night to lead the Florida Panthers to a 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens. He leads the NHL with 37 goals, one more than Pittsburgh's Jaromir Jagr.

The Panthers improved to 21-2-2 when Bure scores and are undefeated in eight games when he gets more than one goal.

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  • "I'm still wondering how he gets open," Panthers coach Terry Murray said. "Everybody knows he's out there, and all of sudden he appears, he disappears and there he is again. We're starting to get used to him now. It was nice to see the way Pavel came alive."

    Florida took a 1-0 lead in the first period when Bure gathered a pass from Viktor Kozlov, just inside the blue line, and skated untouched into the left circle, slipping a shot between the legs of Montreal goalie Jose Theodore.

    The Canadiens tied it 1-1 with a power-play goal at 14:38 of the second. Sergei Zholtok one-timed a pass from Dainius Zubrus for his 15th goal.

    But Bure answered 83 seconds later with a goal right in front of the net. Bret Hedican's shot from just inside the blue line rebounded to Kozlov, who found Bure alone on the right side of the net.

    "We had a planbut like most teams that try to stop him that plan didn't work," Canadiens coach Alain Vigneault said. "He's up there pretty much in a league by himself. You can only compare him to a few players."

    "When he's on, he's very tough."

    Kozlov set a career high for assists in a season with 36 and scored the Panthers' third goal with a little less than seven minutes to play.

    Bure was thwarted on two other scoring chances. He was stopped by Theodore on a breakaway in the first period and hit the post on a power play in the third.

    "There was a lot of intensity, and that's why we had so many opportunities," Bure said.

    The win was much needed for the Panthers, who had lost four of seven games. Florida, 19-5-2 at home, does not play again until after this weekend's All-Star break.

    "It's a good time for a break. It's been a grind," Florida forward Scott Mellanby said. "We'll come back refreshed, not only physically, but mentally. And hopefully this win will carry over."

    The Canadiens had won five of eight.

    "Unfortunately we meet a team that was ready to redeem itself after a few bad games," Vigneault said. "They're not one of the top teams in the league for nothing. We expected them to show up and play well, and they did exactly that."

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