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Koivu scores late in overtime to lift Canadiens

MONTREAL (AP) -- The Florida Panthers can't find a way to win.

Saku Koivu scored his second goal of the game with four seconds
remaining in overtime to lift the Montreal Canadiens past Florida
4-3 Tuesday night, extending the Panthers' season-high losing
streak to nine games.

Stephen Weiss drew Florida even 15:11 into the third, silencing
the sellout crowd of 21,273 as the Panthers came back with three
straight goals in the period to tie it at 3.

The game appeared destined for the first shootout ever in
Montreal when Koivu drove in on Roberto Luongo and -- with
defenseman Mike Van Ryn hooking him and being called for a delayed
penalty -- flipped a shot over the Florida goalie's left arm for the
winner 4:56 into overtime.

"The puck was rolling and he missed the first time, and then
when he missed, I went down," Luongo said. "As I was going down,
he whacked at it and it went over my shoulder."

The Panthers, 0-6-3 over the course of their streak, have lost
six of those games by one goal, including a 5-4 setback at
Philadelphia on Sunday when Mike Knuble scored a short-handed goal
with three seconds left.

"It's frustrating," said Florida forward Martin Gelinas, who
assisted on Weiss' tying goal. "What can I say? It is
disappointing. It's been like that for two weeks. The positive
thing is we got a point, at least, tonight but we've got to get
better starts and play harder from the start."

Steve Begin scored and Richard Zednik also had a goal and an
assist for the Canadiens, who had lost two in a row following a
season-high five-game winning streak.

"We had to be ready tonight because we knew they were going to
come out strong," Begin said. "They're in a slump right now so
you never know when they're going to explode and play their best
game. We came out strong and had a good first period, then we just
watched them for the last 40 minutes."

Trailing 3-0, Florida drew within one early in the third as
Gregory Campbell and Olli Jokkinen scored goals 1:02 apart.

Campbell ruined Yann Danis' bid for a second shutout in three
starts when he beat the Canadiens rookie 2:24 into the third to
make it 3-1.

The Panthers, who had scored just once in their previous 31
power-play opportunities, including two missed opportunities in the
second period, pulled within 3-2 as they finally converted with the
man advantage when Jokkinen scored his fifth of the season.

The Canadiens, who have won six of their last eight games
(6-0-2) and collected 14 of a possible 16 points over that stretch,
played their first game without Alexei Kovalev, their
second-leading scorer.

"We had a short meeting before the game about how we have to
show that we are a team," Koivu said. "It's not about one guy or
one line, it's how we are going to react under adversity, and I
thought we did a very good job."

Kovalev, who had seven goals and 12 assists in 18 games,
underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in Pittsburgh on Tuesday and is
expected to miss about six weeks.

"He said that the surgery went well and he's really the happy
the way it went," said Koivu, who received a phone message from
Kovalev before the game. "I know it was bothering him and, even
though we're going to miss him for quite a long time here, we'd
rather look at the big picture and get him back and hopefully he'll
be healthy."

Zednik opened the scoring with a power-play goal midway through
the first, completing a passing play with Koivu and Tomas Plekanec.
Plekanec initially mishandled Koivu's pass, then recovered to swipe
a backhand in front of the net to Zednik, who redirected it past
Roberto Luongo for his fifth goal.

Begin made it 2-0 less than two minutes later with his seventh
goal on a shot that trickled through Luongo's pads and over the
goal line.

Koivu increased the lead to 3-0 in the second on another shot
that just eluded Luongo. Zednik came out from behind the net and
was stopped by Luongo, but Koivu flailed at the loose puck and
managed to send it sliding slowly over the goal line beyond
Luongo's outstretched pad.

There were several minor skirmishes in the second and Canadiens
defenseman Sheldon Souray and Florida forward Gary Roberts were
given majors for their fight behind the Montreal net midway through
the third.

Game notes
The losing streak is the Panthers' longest since a
team-record 13-game streak from Feb. 7 to March 23, 1998. ... C
Maxim Lapierre made his NHL debut with the Canadiens, one day after
he was called up from Hamilton of the AHL. ... Danis had a shutout
in his first career start, a 2-0 win in Atlanta on Oct. 15. ...