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Setting up a winner

Panthers now 3-0-1 with Bure as Canadiens fall

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Posted: Monday February 01, 1999 01:38 PM

  Three's a crowd: The Panthers' Mark Parrish (right) takes a shot on goalie Jeff Hackett as Radek Dvorak (left) looks on AP

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- The Russian Rocket enjoyed a successful landing in his South Florida debut Wednesday night.

Pavel Bure set up Oleg Kvasha's game-winning goal at 6:18 of the third period to ignite the Panthers in a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.

"It's great to play in front of fans that really support us," said Bure, who was showered with cheers from the fans at the sold-out National Car Rental Center every time he touched the puck. "First of all, I'm really happy we won."

Bure, who has six goals and one assist in four games since joining the Panthers Jan. 17, also hit the crossbar and failed to score on a breakaway.

"Pavel has the gift of being in the right place at the right time to really energize a building and energize our team sitting on the bench," said Panthers coach Terry Murray.

Florida is 3-0-1 with Bure and now trail first-place Carolina by one point in the Southeast Division. Bure couldn't imagine a better start with his new team.

"I think it couldn't get any better, especially since we keep winning," Bure said. "It's a great feeling and I missed it."

The game-winner came after a delayed penalty was called on the Canadiens. Bure backhanded a pass to Kvasha, whose wrist shot from the slot beat Montreal goaltender Jeff Hackett for his eighth goal with 13:42 left in the third period.

"We knew he would want to put on a display on a night with all the media attention he's been getting," said Montreal coach Alain Vigneault. "We tried to keep him out of the equation."

Mark Parrish's 12th goal two minutes earlier tied the game at 1 for the Panthers. Parrish, who was sent down last week to make room for Bure, was called up Tuesday when Scott Mellanby was placed on injured reserve.

"It's exciting to play alongside the guy," said Parrish, a rookie. "It's a dream to play with all the superstars."

Panthers goaltender Sean Burke, who made several spectacular saves, including a sliding glove save to foil Martin Rucinsky on a 2-on-1 breakaway with five minutes to play, finished with 29 saves.

"Any team that does well has to have that kind of game-breaker," said Burke, who played with Bure at Vancouver early last season.

After two scoreless periods, Patrick Brisebois long slap shot beat Burke for a 1-0 lead just 50 seconds into the third period. Mark Recci set up Brisebois' second goal of the season.

"They showed us a lot of character after we got that first goal," Recci said. "You really have to be aware of what he [Bure] does. He's a superstar, but he's not the only good player they have."

Montreal had a goal disallowed in the second period when Scott Thornton kicked a puck in the net with his skate.

Bure seemed fatigued after playing more than 30 minutes in his three-goal game against the Flyers on Tuesday. He didn't have a shot on net until 18:26 of the second period when Hackett snared his point-blank blast.

The fans saved their loudest cheers for Bure's penalty-killing clearing passes during a two-man Canadiens advantage in the second period.

Bure came alive in the third, with a wrist shot beating Hackett but hitting off the crossbar. Bure then set up Kvasha for his first assist as a Panther, and later wowed the crowd on a breakaway that was stopped by a sprawled-out Hackett.

"I wasn't at all [frustrated]," Bure said. "The point is you win the game, so right now I'm happy."

Hackett, who is 10-3-1 in his last 14 starts, had 30 saves.

Related information
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Sports Illustrated's Inside the NHL
Canadiens-Panthers Game Summary
Pavel Bure didn't score in his home debut, but he made his presence felt in the Panthers' win
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