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Canadian Press
1/27/2007 10:57:53 PM


SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) - The Florida Panthers hope to build off a victory in their first game after the all-star break.

Rostislav Olesz scored twice and Joel Kwiatkowski had the winner as the Panthers beat the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Saturday night.

Ed Belfour had 29 saves for Florida, which won consecutive games for the first time since December 27-29. Jozef Stumpel added an empty-netter at 19:39.

"I just put it on the net and it happened to beat him," Kwiatkowski said. "It was a huge game for us. We have to go on a little run here, we all know that. The sooner we start the better."

Brian Gionta and John Oduya scored for New Jersey, and Martin Brodeur stopped 28 shots as the Devils lost for just the second time in seven games.

"They took advantage of some of the mistakes we made," Brodeur said. "We just couldn't get it past Eddie. He played a decent game against us. He always does."

The Panthers went ahead for the first time on Kwiatkowski's goal at 17:22 of the second. His shot from the high slot beat Brodeur and gave Florida a 3-2 lead.

Oduya was credited with a goal after his shot went off the stick of Panthers defenceman Ruslan Salei and past Belfour to give New Jersey a 2-1 lead at 2:25.

Florida tied the score at 2 about 90 seconds later on Olesz's second goal. Stumpel passed from the right circle back to Olesz, who sent a wrist shot from the left circle past Brodeur on the glove side.

"It's good playing with Stumpel, I just go into the offensive zone and find free space and wait for the puck," Olesz said. "I'm just happy we won the game and have two points."

It was the second time the Panthers cane from behind to tie the score.

"There were a few too many defensive breakdowns," Devils coach Claude Julien said. "Some nights you don't get the breaks you want and this was one of those nights."

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