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Canadiens Sneak Past Cats

Thursday, 03.2.2006 / 12:00 AM ET / News
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Canadiens Sneak Past Cats

Cristobal Huet is taking full advantage of an opportunity to start in goal for the Montreal Canadiens.

Huet made 24 saves for his third shutout in his last seven games, and Alexei Kovalev scored with 5:49 left in the third period to help the Canadiens beat the Florida Panthers 1-0 on Thursday night.

"Huey stole the show again," Canadiens center Christopher Higgins said.

Huet has started Montreal's last seven games, including five before the Olympic break when he took over for Jose Theodore. The Canadiens are 5-0-2 in those games.

"It's real important for the guys to know they can count on me the rest of the year," Huet said.

Theodore is out until late March after fracturing a heel during the break.

"(Huet) doesn't look like a player who wants to give up his position to anybody," Canadiens coach Bob Gainey. "You have to earn the confidence of your teammates, and he has done that for a while."

Montreal native Roberto Luongo stopped 26 shots for the Panthers.

The Canadiens, eighth in the Eastern Conference, improved to 6-3-2 in their last 11 games. Florida, which played at home for the first time since Feb. 3, lost in regulation for only the second time in its last 11 games (6-2-3).

"It's getting to that time of year where it's playoff hockey and everybody is playing a lot tighter now," Florida defenseman Mike Van Ryn said. "I really don't think you're going to see a lot of chances from here on out. Any time you get a scoring chance you've got to bury it."

Montreal won the season series 3-1, with all four games decided by one goal.

Kovalev scored after taking a cross-ice pass from Higgins in front of the net. Kovalev deked center Gregory Campbell before beating Luongo with a wrist shot over the right shoulder.

"The difference tonight was Kovalev," Huet said. "He's a great player who can change a game like that with his skills."

Florida's Jozef Stumpel hit the post on a wrist shot in the final 10 seconds.

"In the last game, we got lucky and lots of shots went in the net, but tonight we took lots of shots and nothing went in," Stumpel said. "I hit the crossbar, but (Chris) Gratton was right there and it just bounced over his stick. It was just one of those days."

Florida almost took the lead earlier in the third period after Huet stopped Juraj Kolnik and the puck began sliding toward the open net. But defenseman Mathieu Dandenault cleared the puck before it reached the goal line.

Montreal had a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:18 late in the first period, but Kovalev wasted the best scoring chance when he shot wide on a one-timer from the side.

Florida's best chance in the first two periods came on Kolnik's shot from the front of the net that was gloved by Huet.

"It was a terrific game to be involved in and hopefully it was a great game for the fans," Gainey said. "You could see that kind of determination in Florida right until the final buzzer."

Notes: Because his Panthers mask didn't make its way back from Italy, Luongo wore his Team Canada mask for the second straight game. ... The Canadiens have four more games left on their six-game trip, which matches their longest of the season. They are 2-0 on their current trip after going 2-4 on their first six-game trip. ... The Panthers, who won at Tampa Bay on Tuesday night, haven't won consecutive games since Jan. 9 and 12. ... Montreal signed D James Sanford, currently playing for Hamilton in the AHL, to a two-year contract.

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 79 15 39 10 54
J. Jokinen 81 8 36 -2 44
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
A. Ekblad 81 12 27 12 39
B. Boyes 78 14 24 11 38
A. Barkov 71 16 20 -4 36
J. Hayes 72 19 16 -4 35
B. Campbell 82 3 24 4 27
B. Pirri 49 22 2 6 24
D. Bolland 53 6 17 4 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 28 19 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 6 7 2 .892 3.01
 
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