Series (Game 1 of 4)

Montreal leads 3-1

Game 1: Monday, January 20th
Game 2: Tuesday, January 28th
Game 3: Tuesday, February 18th
Game 4: Wednesday, March 12th

Canadiens 3

(19-19-5, 48 pts)

Panthers 2

(14-16-8, 45 pts)

5:00 PM ET, January 20, 2003

BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida

1 2 3 T
MTL 0 1 23
FLA 0 1 12

J. Bulis (Canadiens - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

A. Markov (Canadiens - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

R. Luongo (Panthers - G): Saves: 31, Save Pct.: .912

Shutout streak ends short of 145 minutes for Luongo

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- The Montreal Canadiens broke two streaks in a victory over the Florida Panthers.

First, they snapped a long scoreless run by goalie Roberto Luongo and that set up the end of their five-game losing skid on the road.

Jan Bulis and Doug Gilmour scored 38 seconds apart in the third period to lead the Canadiens to a 3-2 victory.

Bulis scored the go-ahead goal with 4:49 left after he got through the Panthers defense and took a shot from about six feet away from the crease. Luongo got a piece of it but the puck trickled in.

''I tried to close up as quick as I could but it wasn't quick enough,'' Luongo said. ''There was no reason for that goal to go in.''

Oleg Petrov also scored for Montreal. Luongo had a shutout streak of 144 minutes, 51 seconds broken by Petrov's first-period goal. The Panthers were coming off consecutive shutouts over Boston and Pittsburgh, the first back-to-back blankings in team history.

''Sooner or later, we knew he was going to have to lose one,'' said new Canadiens coach Claude Julien, ''so we were hoping it was going to be tonight.''

Jose Theodore had 31 saves for Montreal.

''We just stuck with the system,'' Theodore said. ''Every time we get the first goal, we seem to get the momentum going. Even when we were down we were playing hard.''

Olli Jokinen and Ivan Novoseltsev scored for Florida.

The Canadiens tied it at 2 at 14:33 on a power play when Andrei Markov's shot from the left point went off Gilmour's leg and over Luongo's shoulder.

''There were two guys in front of the net,'' Luongo said. ''I came out and challenged and tried to take up as much room as I could.''

The defeat ruined a two-game home winning streak for Florida, which had gone winless in nine home games before this homestand.

''It's a lot more difficult to accept a game like tonight when you have an opportunity to put it away,'' Panthers coach Mike Keenan said. ''To have it get away from you late is very difficult.''

Florida went ahead 2-1 at 5:48 of the third period. Stephen Weiss took a shot from the left circle that was blocked by Theodore. The rebound came out in front of the crease, and Novoseltsev shot the puck low past Theodore on the stick side.

The Panthers made it 1-1 at 6:31 of the second period during a power play. Theodore blocked Viktor Kozlov's shot from the left circle but Jokinen got the rebound and poked the puck behind Theodore. It was Jokinen's team-leading 24th goal of the season.

Montreal took a 1-0 lead at 1:31 of the second period. With defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Andreas Lilja spread along the blue line, Petrov took control of the puck in the neutral zone and skated between them straight toward Luongo. Petrov backhanded the puck underneath Luongo's blocker to break Luongo's franchise-record scoreless streak.

''We're trying to get points for the playoffs,'' Luongo said. ''The streak's not really important. I'm just disappointed with the loss.''

Game notes

Jokinen has six goals in his last six games. ... This was the first of four meetings between the teams. ... The crowd of 19,250 marked the Panthers' fourth sellout this season. ... Julien earned his first NHL victory in his second game since replacing fired coach Michel Therrien.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press