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Montreal goalie gets first win since All-Star break

2/23/2004

NEW YORK (AP) -- Montreal's Jose Theodore was so determined to
snap his long losing streak, he treated his latest start as though it were a postseason contest.

It might be the closest the New York Rangers come to the
playoffs.

Theodore made 31 saves in putting his five-game losing run
behind him, and Saku Koivu had a goal and two assists, helping the
Canadiens beat the Rangers 4-1 Monday night.

Since playing in this year's All-Star Game, Theodore, the NHL
MVP and the Vezina Trophy winner two seasons ago, had been 0-5 with an
.873 save percentage.

"Sometimes when a team is losing, you just try to do too
much," Theodore said. "I took a different focus and approached it
like a playoff game."

The Canadiens, now tied for seventh in the Eastern Conference, lead
the 12th-place Rangers by 13 points. With 20 games remaining, it
appears New York will miss the playoffs for the seventh straight
year.

"There can't be anybody in that room who doesn't know where we
are," Rangers coach Glen Sather said. "It is the point now where
we can't lose any more hockey games."

Montreal, which has 19 games left, stretched its lead at the playoff
cutoff to five points over Buffalo. Mike Ribeiro had a goal and an
assist and Patrice Brisebois and Jason Ward also scored for the
Canadiens, who won for the second time in seven games (2-5).

"We had 12 points between Buffalo and us, and now they're right
behind us," Koivu said. "We haven't played that bad, but we
haven't been able to win the games."

Jaromir Jagr scored for New York, outscored 11-4 in two losses
since beating the Islanders. The Rangers have dropped five of six
and are 4-13-2 in their last 19.

"We obviously didn't have it the last two games," forward
Bobby Holik said. "We didn't even come close to being
competitive."

Rangers fans booed struggling goaltender Mike Dunham early, then
began chants of "Fire Sather!" at the beleaguered coach and
general manager.

"This was a big game," Koivu said. "I wouldn't say that
they're done because they have so much talent, and if they get it
going they are going to be tough to beat. At the same time, they
only have 18 or 19 games left and the other teams are going to win
some games, too."

It didn't take long for Dunham to give fans something to really
be upset about.

Koivu took a pass from Jan Bulis while gliding untouched down
the slot and let go an unscreened shot that beat Dunham 1:31 in.

The Rangers didn't get the puck across center ice until 1:20 had
elapsed.

It took until the closing minute of the first period for the
Canadiens to double the lead. Pierre Dagenais made a quick pass
from behind the net to Ribeiro, who scored with 5.3 seconds left in
the period on Montreal's ninth shot.

Most of the second period belonged to the Rangers, who got 17
shots on Theodore but scored only once -- despite having a pair of
two-man advantages that lasted more than a minute apiece.

In contrast, the Canadiens also scored once in the period even
though they only got five shots, none in the first 12:42.

New York managed two shots during its first five-on-three, which
lasted 1:23. The Rangers took advantage of the second one, which came
with less than nine minutes left.

When Andreas Dackell and Steve Begin were sent off 24 seconds
apart, Jagr stretched his points streak to seven games.

He banged in a rebound of Holik's shot at 13:28 to bring the
Rangers to 2-1 and give him six goals and six assists during his
scoring spurt.

The Canadiens were on a delayed penalty when Begin streaked in
alone to record the Habs' first shot of the second period. The
advantage grew to a five-on-three when Brian Leetch was sent off 51
seconds later.

Just 25 seconds into the two-man advantage, Brisebois ripped a
shot that trickled through Dunham's pads.

Ward scored his first goal in 31 games when he deflected in
Koivu's drive 3:01 into the third period.

Game notes
Bulis was checked hard into the side boards late in the
first period and didn't return. ... The Rangers recalled forwards
Paul Healey and Cory Larose from Hartford of the AHL. Healey was in
the lineup, but Larose was scratched. ... Dunham has allowed 17
goals in four games, three of them losses.