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Habs end disappointing season on high note

4/5/2003

MONTREAL (AP) -- Their disappointing seasons over, the Montreal
Canadiens and the New York Rangers searched for positives.

Stephane Quintal scored with 2:14 left in the third period to
give Montreal a 5-4 victory over New York on Saturday night.

Yanic Perreault had two goals and an assist, and Richard Zednik
and Saku Koivu also scored for Montreal.

Sandy McCarthy had his first career two-goal game for New York,
which was eliminated from playoff contention Friday night.

"I'll take the joy out of that and go into the summer on a
personal high note,'' McCarthy said. "We just didn't do the little
things we had to do to win hockey games. It doesn't matter who
you've got on your team, if you're not willing to pay the price,
you're not going to win.''

New York, which also got goals from Petr Nedved and Eric Lindros, finished ninth in the East with 78 points.

The Rangers extended their postseason drought to a team-record
six seasons despite signing free agents Bobby Holik and Darius
Kasparaitis in the offseason and then acquiring Alexei Kovalev and
Anson Carter prior to the trading deadline.

"For people on the outside, they look at names or talent but in
this league nowadays that's not good enough,'' Holik said. "It's
hard work and dedication that comes first and tonight is just too
early to analyze everything that needed to be done to have a better
year. But it's not a good feeling having a sense of no accomplishment whatsoever.''

The Canadiens, who were eliminated from postseason contention a
week earlier, finished 10th with 77 points.

"We just have to be a better team,'' Koivu said. "We have the
talent, but we need a better team performance than what we showed
this year.''

Montreal missed the playoffs for the fourth time in five
seasons, the worst postseason drought in the franchise's
championship-laden history.

"It's a season we have to put behind us,'' Quintal said.
"Maybe they'll make some changes and come back in September. We
have to be a lot better next year. The young guys did a good job
but it's the core of veterans that has to step up and play a lot
better.''

Rangers captain Mark Messier didn't play because of a rib
injury. The 42-year-old Messier has yet to indicate whether he will
return for a 25th NHL season.

Kovalev left the game after he was struck under the left eye by
Canadiens defenseman Mike Komisarek's stick. The Rangers forward
told reporters that his vision was OK and that he would have the
eye checked on Sunday.

"I couldn't see anything until I got to the locker room,'' said
Kovalev, who had a multicolored welt around his eye along with a
six-stitch gash.

McCarthy opened the scoring with 4:35 left in the first period
when his shot got behind goalie Jose Theodore and trickled just
over the goal line before Canadiens defenseman Craig Rivet swiped
the puck clear.

Perreault, who had just three goals in his previous 36 games,
scored two just 2:20 apart early in the second. He got his 23rd
1:10 into the second and put Montreal up 2-1 with his 24th at 3:30.

Zednik extended his career high -- with a big boost from Rangers
forward Matthew Barnaby -- at 6:54. From behind the net, Zednik put
the puck out front where Barnaby wheeled and inadvertently
backhanded a shot past Rangers goalie Dan Blackburn to increase the
Canadiens' lead to two.

"That's been the way this year's gone,'' Barnaby said. "I've never had that happen to me so it was a little shocking, but I'm just glad it was in a nothing game. It would have killed me if it was in a big, big game.''

Nedved drew New York back within one with his 27th goal two
minutes into the third, and McCarthy got his sixth of the season at
6:48 to tie it at 3.

Quintal scored his fifth of the season with 2:14 left to put
Montreal ahead 4-3. Koivu scored his 21st into an empty net with
49.4 seconds left before Lindros ended a 16-game scoring drought
when he scored his 19th with 16.7 seconds remaining.

Game notes
Linesman Gerard Gauthier called his 2,345th and final NHL
regular-season game, ending a 32-year career. Gauthier dropped the
puck for the opening faceoff and was given a warm ovation from the
Bell Centre crowd. ... McCarthy has 68 goals in 686 career regular
season games. ... The crowd was Montreal's 25th sellout of the
season, and its 11th straight.