Series (Game 3 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

Panthers 3

(17-22-9, 54 pts)

Canadiens 0

(24-24-6, 61 pts)

7:30 PM ET, February 18, 2003

Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

1 2 3 T
FLA 0 3 03
MTL 0 0 00

V. Kozlov (Panthers - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

O. Jokinen (Panthers - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

R. Luongo (Panthers - G): Saves: 24, Save Pct.: 1.000

Luongo posts sixth shutout of season

MONTREAL (AP) -- Roberto Luongo took advantage of his teammates' strong all-around effort to record a milestone shutout.

Roberto Luongo

Luongo set a career-high with his sixth shutout of the season, and Olli Jokinen and Viktor Kozlov each had a goal and an assist to lead the Florida Panthers to a 3-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.

Luongo, who has 16 career shutouts, made 24 saves. He had five shutouts in 2000-01, his second of four seasons in the NHL.

"They did an excellent job for 60 minutes tonight,'' Luongo said of the Panthers' defensive effort. "(Montreal) didn't have many opportunities so it makes my job much easier.''

Jeff Toms also scored as Florida ended a four-game winless streak. The Panthers have just three wins in their last 13 games (3-7-2-1).

"It was a big game for the team,'' Luongo said. "I think we're still in the playoff picture so the guys know that every game is important right now, and for us, two points was big tonight.''

Jokinen and Kozlov, the Panthers' two leading scorers, assisted on each other's goals -- which came 1:43 apart in the second -- as Florida scored three times while outshooting Montreal 10-3 in the period.

"We got a couple of quick goals after the first one, and then it was 3-0,'' Jokinen said. "In the third period, we just held the lead and we played smart.''

The Canadiens lost in regulation for the first time in their last five games (4-1-0-1) following a season-high four-game losing streak.

"I thought they played strong defensively,'' Montreal captain Saku Koivu said. "There was not a lot of room between the blue lines. They went in with five guys and they did a good job of boxing us out -- it was tough to get to the net. We just weren't able to get enough shots.''

Both teams had 12 shots apiece during a scoreless first period.

Toms, who was recalled from San Antonio of the AHL on Monday, scored his first goal in four games with the Panthers this season when he deflected defenseman Jay Bouwmeester's shot past Jose Theodore to open the scoring 2:08 into the second.

Jokinen got his 31st goal to make it 2-0 when he beat Theodore on a breakaway with 6:30 left in the period.

"We have penalty shots after every practice, and finally, I got a breakaway,'' Jokinen said. "I've been practicing those a lot and those are the situations in the game where you have to score, and it was a big goal for us.''

Kozlov scored on a power play with 4:47 left in the second as he blasted a slap shot from the left point beyond Theodore to put the Panthers up by three.

Jokinen just missed a scoring a second goal when he struck the post behind Theodore with a little more than two minutes left in the period.

Luongo made a sprawling pad save on Chad Kilger midway through the third to preserve his shutout.

Game notes

Jokinen leads the Panthers with 55 points in 58 games, trailed by Kozlov, who has 40 points in 51 games. ... Toms, who had one assist in his three previous games with Florida, signed with the Panthers as an unrestricted free agent last July. He had 19 goals and 22 assists in 45 games with San Antonio of the AHL. ... Theodore, the NHL's best goalie and MVP last season, is 1-6-0 in his last seven starts.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press