Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series tied 1-1

Game 1: Saturday, November 9th
Game 2: Saturday, March 8th

Canadiens 1

(24-29-8, 64 pts)

Kings 2

(29-31-4, 66 pts)

10:00 PM ET, March 8, 2003

STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, California

1 2 3 T
MTL 0 0 11
LA 1 0 12

J. Storr (Kings - G): Saves: 27, Save Pct.: .964

M. Garon (Canadiens - G): Saves: 28, Save Pct.: .933

M. Eloranta (Kings - LW): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

L.A. extends Montreal's winless streak to nine games

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Almost 10 years after facing each other in the Stanley Cup finals, the Los Angeles Kings and Montreal Canadiens are on the outside looking in.

Both teams are grasping at straws, watching their window of opportunity for a playoff berth shrink with every game. Los Angeles climbed within eight points of a playoff spot in the Western Conference on Saturday night with a 2-1 victory over the Canadiens, who are seven points out in the East.

Ryan Flinn got his first NHL goal, Eric Belanger also scored and Jamie Storr made 27 saves, helping extend Montreal's winless streak to nine games.

Storr came within three-tenths of a second of his 16th career shutout -- and the first ever by the Kings against Montreal in 128 regular-season meetings. Richard Zednik scored his 27th of the season during a goalmouth scramble.

"The end result -- winning and getting two points -- is more important than individual satisfaction," Storr said. "They had some good chances at the end. Zednik didn't have much to shoot at, but he put the puck in."

The Kings officially became the most injury-affected squad in the franchise's 36-year history. They broke the club record for man-games lost in a season with 381 -- one more than in 1995-96.

The record-breaker was center Chris Schmidt, who was scratched because of a groin strain. Eight other players are on injured reserve, four with concussions.

The Canadiens are 0-8-1 since beating Edmonton 3-2 on Feb. 15 at Montreal. The longest winless streak in franchise history is 12 games, set in 1925-26 (0-12-0) and equaled in 1935-36 (0-8-4). They have won the Stanley Cup 20 times since then.

"We're at a point where we just have to fins the pleasure of playing hockey again," said defenseman Patrice Brisebois, the last player left from Montreal's 1993 championship team. "It's very tense in the locker room. It's not fun to play right now."

The Canadiens' fifth straight road loss dropped their record away from Montreal to 10-22-3, including five overtime defeats. They have to win two of their five remaining road games to avoid tying the franchise record, set four seasons ago.

Montreal has not scored more than three goals in any of its last 17 games and is 3-for-58 on the power play during that stretch. The Canadiens are 0-23-0 when trailing after two periods, including three overtime losses.

"It's the same as it's been lately. We haven't been scoring goals when we've been getting the chances," Montreal coach Claude Julien said. "Our confidence level is very low right now and we need a win to pick up us."

Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore, who won the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP last season, was benched in favor of rookie Mathieu Garon after Thursday's overtime loss at San Jose made Theodore 1-10-1 with a 3.06 goals-against average since Jan. 28. Garon made 28 saves in his fifth start this season.

Flinn, who built a reputation in the minors as an enforcer with 888 penalty minutes over the previous three seasons and piled up 56 minutes in his first 14 NHL games, opened the scoring at 2:40 of the first period.

Flinn was left unchecked at the left of the crease and easily converted Brad Norton's centering pass from the right corner. The fun continued for the 22-year-old native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, during the first intermission when he was interviewed on the national "Hockey Night in Canada" telecast.

"Brad slipped a great pass across the crease. All I had to do was tap it in," Flinn said. "When you're a kid, you dream about scoring your first NHL goal. It's great to get it, but it's even sweeter that we got the two points."

Belanger added his 12th goal with 7:40 to play, beating Garon with a short backhander after Mikko Eloranta intercepted an attempted clearing pass by Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov.

The Canadiens had a golden opportunity to tie it about 5 1-2 minutes into the second period when Kings center Bryan Smolinski overskated the puck about 10 feet in front of Storr _ who suddenly was looking down the barrel of Niklas Sundstrom's stick. But Sundstrom's shot was wide of the right post, leaving him scoreless in his last 11 games.

Game notes
The last time every Canadian-based team made the playoffs was 1983, when there were seven teams north of the boarder. The last time all of the NHL's original six teams qualified for the postseason was 1996. ... Kings C Ian Laperriere, who was born in Montreal, has played 14 career games against the Canadiens without a goal. Jose Theodore stopped him on a penalty shot last season. ... Kings D Mathieu Schneider, who made his NHL debut with the Canadiens in 1987-88 and helped them beat Los Angeles for the Cup in '93, played in his 900th career game.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press