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Wisniewski's overtime goal lifts Canadiens past Panthers

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Associated Press
1/1/2011 12:34:10 AM
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SUNRISE, Fla. -- James Wisniewski is fitting in quite nicely with the Montreal Canadiens.

The Montreal newcomer scored his second goal of the game 3:41 into overtime to give the Canadiens a 3-2 comeback victory over the Florida Panthers on Friday.

Wisniewski, acquired from the New York Islanders on Tuesday, scored the winner off a rebound of Michael Cammalleri's shot. The defenceman had a power-play goal in the second period.

"Hopefully, our fans can celebrate a good New Year now," Wisniewski said. "We were struggling, so to come back from down 2-0 and get the win is big for us. Now, hopefully, we can build on this."

Wisniewski impressed his new coach by the way he trailed and then skated in on the game's final play.

"I love how he followed the play in overtime to get the winner," Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said. "He's a smart player, and I like the way he moves the puck and shoots the puck."

Brian Gionta also scored and Alex Auld stopped 20 shots to help the Canadiens, coming off a 4-1 loss at Tampa Bay on Thursday night, overcome a 2-0 deficit to finish 2-5 on their seven-game trip.

"We were all feeling the pressure," Cammalleri said. "We wanted to get out of it and we were able to get out of it. Sometimes to get out of these it takes a game like this where you don't score six or seven goal, but it takes 64 minutes and 48 shots to get it done."

Stephen Weiss and Dmitry Kulikov scored for Florida in a 1:45 span early in the second period. Tomas Vokoun made 45 saves for the Panthers.

"We have to be a little smarter the way we manage the game when it's 2-0. We say that over and over, we just got to do it," Vokoun said.

Weiss opened the scoring 28 seconds into the second with his 11th goal. He put in a rebound from Dennis Wideman's shot that Auld was unable to control.

Kulikov scored his third goal at 2:13 when he wristed a shot from the point. Evgeny Dadonov nearly redirected the puck, which got past Auld thanks to traffic in front of the net.

Wisniewski and Gionta tied it with power-play goals midway through the second period.

Wisniewski scored at 10:59, his fourth goal and first with Montreal. At 12:54, Gionta redirected Chris Gomez's feed past Vokoun. It was Gionta's 13th goal.

NOTES: The Canadiens traded C Maxim Lapierre to Anaheim on Friday for D Brett Festerling and a fifth-round pick in 2012. ... Florida placed C Steve Reinprecht on waivers. ... With a large contingent of Canadiens fans in attendance, the crowd noise made it seem like a Montreal home game.

Pacioretty and Wisniewski celebrate (Photo: Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
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