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Two goals in 63 seconds too much for Habs

3/6/2003

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The Anaheim Mighty Ducks are rounding
into playoff form, outlasting teams in the third period and scoring
critical goals down the stretch.

Mike Leclerc and Patric Kjellberg scored 63 seconds apart in the
third period and Petr Sykora scored late in the first as the Ducks
extended the Montreal Canadiens' winless streak to seven games
Wednesday night with a 3-1 victory and moved up another notch in
the Western Conference race.

"We've been in this same position going into the third period
tied or up a goal in quite a few games this year, and the more you
do it the better you get,'' Leclerc said. "We're building
experience, and tonight we stepped up and made the plays when it
counted.''

The victory lifted the Ducks into sixth place in the conference,
one point ahead of Minnesota and six points behind fifth-place St.
Louis.

Anaheim backup goalie Martin Gerber made 24 saves and won for
the third time in four starts after going 0-7-3 in his previous 10
decisions -- including 1-0 losses to Philadelphia and Edmonton. He
has not allowed more than two goals in any of his last nine starts.

"Lately we've been scoring some goals for him, which is nice,
because he's been playing great for us and we hadn't been able to
give him any support,'' said defenseman Keith Carney, who got an
assist on Kjellberg's goal. "He works hard and he deserves to get
the Ws.''

Saku Koivu scored for Montreal, 0-6-1 since beating Edmonton 3-2
on Feb. 15. The Canadiens have scored no more than three goals in
any of their last 15 games, and are 3-for-53 on the power play
during that span. They remain six points out of a playoff spot with
15 to play.

"We can't afford to be down. We still have some games left, and
you never know,'' said Donald Audette, who set up Koivu's 17th
goal. "It's never over until it's over, so we're definitely not
going to quit.

"We have to win about 10 out of 15, but we have to start
playing one game at a time and see where it takes us.''

Leclerc put the Ducks ahead to stay with his sixth goal,
screening goalie Jose Theodore at the edge of the crease and
getting his stick on a 25-foot wrist shot from the slot by
defenseman Vitaly Vishnevski with 11:28 to play.

"The key is getting pucks to the net and traffic in front, but
that's the same against any goalie,'' Leclerc said. "You don't see
too many guys scoring fancy goals all the time. You have to get
deflections and rebounds.''

Kjellberg added his eighth goal after Steve Rucchin hustled for
a loose puck behind the net and fed it in front, where Kjellberg's
shot from the slot broke off Theodore's pads.

Theodore, who last season became the first goalie since Jacques
Plante in 1961-62 to be the league's top goalie and MVP, is 1-9-1
in his last 11 starts. The Canadiens matched their longest winless
streak of the season, when they were 0-6-1 during a seven-game road
trip.

The teams skated to a 1-1 tie during a penalty-free first period
in which neither club had a shot on net for the first five minutes.
Sykora opened the scoring at 18:07, converting Paul Kariya's pass
from behind the net for his 25th goal. But the lead lasted just 30
seconds.

Koivu headed to the net unchecked and redirected Donald
Audette's centering feed past Gerber's glove.

"It was important to get the momentum back,'' Audette said.
"We played a solid first two periods and started off good in the
third, but we got down for about four or five minutes. And you
can't do that when you're battling for a playoff spot.''

Game notes
It was only the second time the Ducks scored more than
three goals in their last 11 games. ... Koivu has scored just twice
in 17 games since getting his 100th career goal on Jan. 25 against
Washington. The Canadiens are only 5-8-2 when their captain scores.
... Koivu has played all 67 games for Montreal after missing all
but three games last season because of cancer. ... Montreal native
Jean-Sebastien Giguere, 1-1-1 against the Canadiens with a 2.59
goals-against average, got the night off following Anaheim's 2-1
victory Tuesday night at Los Angeles. ... Canadiens LW Chad Kilger,
a former No. 1 draft pick of the Ducks and part of the trade that
brought Teemu Selanne to Anaheim in February 1996, has 53 goals in
374 NHL games.