Final OT

Series (Game 1 of 1)

Columbus leads 1-0

Game 1: Thursday, February 13th
Blue Jackets2Final

Blue Jackets 2

(22-26-2, 52 pts)

Canadiens 1

(23-23-6, 59 pts)

7:30 PM ET, February 13, 2003

Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

1 2 3 OT T
CBJ 0 1 0 12
MTL 0 0 1 01

M. Denis (Blue Jackets - G): Saves: 38, Save Pct.: .974

G. Sanderson (Blue Jackets - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

S. Koivu (Canadiens - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

Columbus 4-1-2 in last seven games

MONTREAL (AP) -- The Columbus Blue Jackets know their playoff hopes can only stay alive with road wins.

Jaroslav Spacek, Columbus' top-scoring defenseman, got the winning goal just 28 seconds into overtime, lifting the Blue Jackets past the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 on Thursday night.

Spacek, who assisted on Geoff Sanderson's power-play goal late in the second period, scored on a power play after Montreal's Yanic Perreault was penalized with 55 seconds left in the third period.

Columbus, which beat San Jose 1-0 one night earlier, has lost just once in its last seven games (4-1-2). Blue Jackets goalie Marc Denis, who recorded his third shutout against the Sharks on Wednesday, turned aside 38 shots for the second straight night.

"This was just a big game for the Columbus Blue Jackets,'' Denis said. "We had a big win last night against San Jose, a team we're chasing, and they weren't playing tonight, so we knew with a win tonight we could pass them. We're in a fight for our life every day to stay alive in the playoff hunt in the Western Conference.''

The Blue Jackets had lost five straight on the road and are just 7-17-3-1 away from home.

"I'm thrilled about it,'' Blue Jackets coach Doug McLean said of the road win. "We needed it. We're close to .500 in our last nine or 10 (road games), so we're getting better. We're back within eight or nine points of the playoffs, and who knows? We're just going to keep trying to pick up the two points every night.''

Columbus has 52 points, 10th in the West.

Trailing 1-0, Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov drew the Canadiens even 8:04 into the third period as he finished off a give-and-go play with Saku Koivu. Markov carried the puck into Columbus' zone before passing to Koivu. Markov drove to the net and buried Koivu's return pass into an open right side before Denis could get across.

The goal ended a 121:54 shutout streak for Denis, who made 38 saves the night before in a 1-0 win over San Jose.

Jose Theodore made 24 saves for Montreal, which remained undefeated in regulation in its last three (2-0-0-1) following a four-game losing streak.

"We should have had two points,'' Koivu said. "We certainly had our chances, we just couldn't finish. Denis played a very good game, but we made it easy for him.''

The Canadiens outshot the Blue Jackets 39-26 overall, including 16-5 during a scoreless and listless first period.

Sanderson opened the scoring on a 4-on-3 advantage with 1:39 left in the second. Montreal right wing Richard Zednik was called for hooking just 21 seconds after Columbus' Jody Shelley and the Canadiens' Randy McKay were sent off for roughing.

The Blue Jackets passed the puck around quickly on the ensuing power-play and soon found themselves with two players alone in front of Theodore when Montreal's Andreas Dackell left his position to chase the puck.

Ray Whitney found Spacek alone with Sanderson. Spacek slid the puck across to Sanderson, who put the shot past Theodore for his 23rd of the season.

Game notes

Ron Tugnutt had a team record 153:15 shutout streak with Columbus from March 9-19, 2001. ... Denis and Theodore were teammates on Canada's gold medal-winning 1996 World Junior Championships team. ... Perreault returned after missing eight games with a groin injury.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press