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Garon's shutout helps Habs end four-game skid

2/9/2003

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Before Sunday, letting Mathieu Garon play in goal was about the only thing the Montreal Canadiens hadn't tried to end their four-game losing streak.

That streak disappeared after 25 saves from Garon in his first start of the season, Montreal's 2-0 victory over the Washington Capitals.

"I think it was really important for us to end that streak,'' Garon said. " I hadn't played for three weeks and I felt like I played last night. I felt really good.

Saku Koivu and Jan Bulis scored for Montreal, which moved within a point of Tampa Bay and the New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference standings.

Garon was called up to the Canadiens on Jan. 24 after Montreal dealt backup Jeff Hackett to Boston, but Garon had yet to appear in a game. Sunday's win was the third shutout of his career and first since Jan. 12, 2001, against Atlanta.

"That was one of the best games that I have ever seen a goalie play,'' said Koivu, who scored the first goal late in the second period. "As a teammate, it's great to see a young guy coming up, being a backup, and getting two points for his team.''

Washington, which had won three of its last four, tested Garon
throughout in just his 17th NHL game. He was forced to turn away
two short-range chances by Jaromir Jagr and Michael Nylander.

"They started their young goalie and we just weren't ready to play,'' Washington goalie Olaf Kolzig said. "He made some big saves for them. But I'd like to think that we've got a better hockey team in here than they do.''

After the initial push from Washington, the Canadiens remained
patient for a scoring opportunity, a strategy that frustrated Jagr
and the Capitals.

"It was a tough night for everybody,'' Jagr said. "I wish we
would fight through it and score some goals. I had the feeling that
we were going to get one, then we could get another one and maybe
win the game. It didn't happen. We had some chances, but when we
had it he would stop it.''

In the second period, Garon made a save on Jagr that started a
rush to the other end that set up Koivu's goal. Koivu took a pass
from former Capital Richard Zednik and snapped a wrist shot over
Kolzig's shoulder.

Bulis, traded with Zednik from Washington, beat Kolzig on his
backhand for his 11th goal of the season in the third period.

Jagr failed to earn a point for the first time in six games for
Washington, which was shut out for the first time since a 2-0 loss
to San Jose on Dec. 14, 2002.

Game notes
Washington now begins a four-game Southeast Division
road trip. ... Montreal recalled defenseman Mike Komisarek from AHL
affiliate Hamilton. The team assigned Sylvain Blouin to make room
for Komisarek. ... Jagr, who entered the game with 31 goals and 61
points in his career against Montreal, was honored in a ceremony
before the game for scoring his 500th career goal earlier this
month.