Final

Series (Game 1 of 1)

Montreal leads 1-0

Game 1: Tuesday, January 13th
Blues2Final
Canadiens5

Blues 2

(23-13-1, 52 pts)

Canadiens 5

(22-16-2, 51 pts)

7:30 PM ET, January 13, 2004

Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

1 2 3 T
STL 1 0 12
MTL 1 3 15

M. Ribeiro (Canadiens - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

S. Koivu (Canadiens - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

C. Rivet (Canadiens - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Montreal has won six of its past eight

MONTREAL (AP) -- The Montreal Canadiens have changed for the better since the last time Mathieu Garon started in goal

Mike Ribeiro and Jan Bulis had a goal and an assist apiece and Saku Koivu also had two points in Montreal's 5-2 victory over St. Louis on Tuesday night.

The Canadiens have won six of eight (6-1-1), including an 8-0 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Garon, Jose Theodore's backup, made 16 saves in his ninth start of the season, his first since a 3-2 loss in Washington on Dec. 23.

"It was a different team," Garon said. "Defensively, I think we're playing great and we're not giving much, so it's easier for the goalie, especially with the great offense we had tonight."

Ribeiro scored his 10th of the season to tie it at 1-1 midway through the first, and assisted on Richard Zednik's go-ahead goal 3:44 into the second. Ribeiro leads the Canadiens with 35 points in 44 games.

Michael Ryder and Craig Rivet added goals later in the period, and Bulis, who assisted on Ryder's goal, scored in the third.

"It seems that whenever we need the break right now, it's going our way, and it's fun," said Koivu, who had two assists. "We've gone through some tough times in the last couple of years here so it's fun to have things going your way."

Pavol Demitra and Eric Nickulas scored for St. Louis, which ended a four-game winless streak one night earlier with a 7-4 victory over Chicago.

"Our second period wasn't very good, but I wasn't crazy about how we played in the other two," Blues coach Joel Quenneville said.

Both teams were coming off season highs for goals in a game.

Canadiens defenseman Francis Bouillon was given a major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct 5:17 in after he checked Ryan Johnson into the boards from behind.

Demitra opened the scoring just 33 seconds into the ensuing five-minute power play when he beat Garon at 5:50 on a setup from Keith Tkachuk and Chris Pronger.

Pulled early in the second Monday after allowing four goals on 14 shots, Blues goalie Chris Osgood couldn't hold the lead. Osgood is winless in his last nine starts (0-5-3).

"Over the course of the season, he's been excellent for us, but I think these last two games he's had a couple of tough nights," Quenneville said. "We've been relying on him and leaning on him all year and he's been pulling through for us, but we all go through it and hopefully he can rebound and we can rebound as a team.

Ribeiro tied it at 11:09 when he moved to his backhand to beat Osgood.

Ribeiro got his second straight point when Zednik scored the first of Montreal's three second-period goals to make it 2-1. Ribeiro's pass sent Zednik and Pierre Dagenais in on a 2-on-1, and Zednik banked a shot off Osgood into the top left corner of the net 3:44 into the period.

Ryder, Bulis and Koivu combined on a pretty passing play to make it 3-1 at 6:46. Koivu passed from the left boards to the slot, where Bulis teed up the puck for Ryder, who fired a shot past Osgood for his 12th goal of the season.

"Sometimes those things just click, and it happened that we were all in the perfect spot for that play," Koivu said.

Rivet scored his third of the season on a power play at 9:47 when he took Jason Ward's behind-the-net pass as he drove to the net from the left faceoff circle before tucking a shot inside the right post.

Nickulas made it 4-2 with his seventh goal 8:52 into the third, but Bulis restored Montreal's three-goal lead with his ninth goal at 16:07 on a pass from Koivu, who drew his second assist of the game.

Game notes


The Blues have just three wins in their last 13 games (3-7-3). ... Theodore had gone 5-2-1 in a season-high eight consecutive starts. He allowed no more than one goal through regulation in seven games in that stretch, including his fifth shutout of the season Saturday.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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