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Panthers 4, Devils 3 (OT): Olesz scores game-winner

Newark, NJ (Sports Network) – Rostislav Olesz scored two minutes into overtime as the Florida Panthers took a 4-3 win over the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.

In the extra session, Olesz took a pass from Radek Dvorak in the New Jersey end and from the right circle snapped a simple wrister that fooled Johan Hedberg for the win.

Dennis Wideman, Mike Santorelli and Chris Higgins all lit the lamp for the Panthers, who snapped a three-game skid. Tomas Vokoun made 28 stops in the win.

“I think we deserved that win tonight,” said Florida head coach Peter DeBoer. “We’ve been playing some good hockey lately and haven’t been getting the bounces. We played good tonight and we deserved those two points.”

Travis Zajac had a goal and an assist while Jason Arnott and Mark Fayne also scored for the Devils, who came into the game having won six of their last seven. Hedberg stopped 24 shots in defeat.

“I thought we played well, we did alot of good things in the second and third period,” said Fayne. “We just couldn’t hold on and let this one slip through.”

New Jersey held a one-goal lead in the third period and were looking to build on it when Jason Garrison was called for slashing, but it was Florida getting the shorthanded goal.

Ilya Kovalchuk attempted a pass from the left to the right point, but he didn’t get anything on it and Santorelli picked it off. He then skated the length of the ice and went around a pokecheck from Hedberg before depositing the puck behind the goaltender to tie the game with 7:08 left in regulation.

The Panthers took the initial lead in the game on Higgins’ ninth goal of the season at the 6:52 mark, but New Jersey got a pair of lucky bounces to score the next two goals.

The first came just two minutes after the Higgins goal as Vokoun played a puck over to the right boards for Garrison, who attempted to backhand the puck behind the net. However, it hit off the boards and went out front where Zajac put the gift into the net.

Just over two minutes later, a right point shot from Henrik Tallinder hit off a body in front then bounced off the backboard before coming to the right side where Arnott tucked it home for his 13th goal of the year.

Florida, though, tied it 1 1/2 minutes later with a power-play tally as a wrist shot by Wideman in the high slot made its way through a screen and past Hedberg.

The only goal of the second period was the Devils’ as Fayne used a chip shot on a rolling puck in the slot that arced over the head of Vokoun for a 3-2 lead at the 6:20 mark.

Hedberg stopped 11 shots in the middle frame to help New Jersey take a one- goal lead into the third.

The Devils play at Montreal on Sunday.