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MONTREAL (AP) — Wojtek Wolski scored in regulation and added the only goal of the shootout to help the Florida Panthers boost their playoff hopes with a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.
Mikael Samuelsson also scored in regulation for Florida, which outshot Montreal 36-29. The Panthers ended a three-game winless streak and completed a four-game sweep of the season series with Montreal.
The win, combined with Washington’s 5-1 loss at Buffalo, gave the Panthers a five-point lead over the Capitals for first place in the Southeast Division, with a game in hand.
Erik Cole and Louis Leblanc scored for the already-eliminated Canadiens, who have only one win in their last six games.
Trailing 2-1 in the third, Samuelsson tied the game with 7:12 to go when his long wrist shot sailed untouched past Carey Price.
The Panthers got on the board first when Wolski picked up a loose puck at his blue-line, skated down the right side and beat Price with a shot over his glove and off the crossbar with 6:56 left in the first.
Montreal tied it only 56 seconds later on a power play, with Max Pacioretty banking a puck off goalie Scott Clemmensen to Cole, who had an open side of the net to shoot at.
The Panthers outshot Montreal 13-4 in the middle period, but the Canadiens got the only goal as Frederic St. Denis took advantage of a turnover and sent Leblanc in alone to score only his fifth goal in 37 games.
Florida began a four-game road trip that also takes them to Minnesota, Columbus and Detroit.
(© 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)