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.