<
>

Demitra leads Canucks' rally to end Panthers' winning streak

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Vancouver Canucks needed a little time to get up to speed against the Florida Panthers.

Pavel Demitra scored twice and Vancouver overcame an early two-goal deficit to beat the Panthers 5-3 on Sunday night.

The Panthers, who had won five straight road games, scored twice in the opening 7 minutes and led 2-1 after the first period. But Vancouver had four straight goals in the second period, scoring twice on the power play and once short-handed.

"It was just one of those nights," Florida goalie Craig Anderson said. "We lost the momentum there in the second and they got some good chances off some bad bounces. It was a tough night. It was one of those periods where nothing went our way.

"There was a snowball effect and we needed a big save from myself and didn't get it. We needed something like that to change the momentum and didn't get it."

Pavol Demitra scored twice in the second, tying it 5 minutes in and giving Vancouver the lead 6 minutes later.

Demitra, signed as an unrestricted free agent by the Canucks in the offseason, hammered home a loose puck at the side of the Florida goal after Panthers defenseman Karlis Skrastins lost control trying to go behind his own net.

Demitra added his 10th of the season when his centering pass went off Jay Bouwmeester's skate and past Anderson.

Kyle Wellwood and Ryan Kesler also scored to give Vancouver a 5-2 lead after 40 minutes.

Demitra felt that the momentum of the game had actually turned in Vancouver's favor when Darcy Hordichuk beat Anderson with a snap shot at 12:42 of the first period.

"It was really Hordichuk's goal that got us going," Demitra said. "That was huge for us. You could tell the momentum had shifted after he scored that goal, everything started to go our way. It was nice to see a guy like that score a goal, and that was the nicest goal we scored tonight."

Florida's Nick Boynton had opened the scoring at 4:02 of the first period, and Bouwmeester made it 2-0 3 minutes later. Michael Frolik also scored for the Panthers, who were playing their fourth straight road game.

Defenseman Bryan McCabe refused to use the lengthy road trip as excuse though.

"Fatigue was definitely not a factor," McCabe said. "Mentally, we were just not sharp tonight and it cost us. We turned a lot of pucks over that ended up in our net. And to be honest, they got some lucky bounces tonight and we didn't, but that's the way it goes."

Rookie goalie Corey Schneider made his first home start for the Canucks, and overcame a shaky start to improve his record to 2-2-1 for the season.

Game notes
LW Cory Stillman returned to the Florida lineup after missing 13 games with post-concussion symptoms. Stillman, signed as an unrestricted free agent over the summer, was injured Nov. 2. ... The Panthers lost C Stephen Weiss to an upper-body injury late in the first period. Weiss, who has five goals and 16 points on the season, did not return and was taken to the hospital for X-rays. ... Vancouver G Roberto Luongo remains sidelined with a groin injury and is considered week-to-week. The Canucks are 5-4-1 without their captain. ... LW David Booth skated with the Panthers on Saturday and is close to returning to action. Booth injured a shoulder Nov. 30.