<
>

Habs sweep Bruins to claim seventh straight win

MONTREAL (AP) -- Chris Higgins enjoyed his 20th goal even more because of what it meant to his team.

The Montreal rookie scored the go-ahead goal 14:31 into the
third and the Canadiens finished with three power-play goals in a
5-3 win over Boston on Tuesday night to sweep a two-game set
against the Bruins at the Bell Centre.

Montreal, which beat Boston 2-0 Saturday to eliminate the Bruins
from playoff contention, won its seventh straight, including six in
a row at home.

"It's such an important time of the year and every goal is
magnified," Higgins said. "It's really fun to be playing right
now and we're having a lot of fun, especially since we're playing
so many home games and we're giving the fans something to cheer
about."

Jan Bulis, Michael Ryder and Saku Koivu scored power-play goals
and Aaron Downey added another at even strength following Higgins'
tally as the Canadiens tied New Jersey for sixth place in the
Eastern Conference with 87 points.

"It's a good feeling when you get that," said Koivu, who had
20 goals as a rookie in 1995-96. "I think halfway through the
season not too many people expected him to get 20 goals and the way
he's playing right now and getting the goals, it's really fun to
watch, and it's really fun to play with him."

Montreal is two points ahead of Tampa Bay, which currently holds
the eighth and final playoff spot, and nine ahead of ninth-place
Atlanta.

Koivu scored Montreal's third power-play goal 3:48 into the
third on a 5-on-3 to tie it after Boston's Marco Sturm scored 34
seconds into the period to put the Bruins up 3-2.

Bruins center Patrice Bergeron scored twice and set up Sturm's
go-ahead goal as Boston finally scored against Cristobal Huet.
Bergeron opened the scoring 19 seconds into the second period,
ending Huet's shutout string against Boston at 237 minutes, 39
seconds.

"I wasn't really worried about that," Bergeron said. "The
main focus tonight was to get those ugly goals, go to the front of
the net and get those rebounds, and I think we did. We screened us,
he gave us a couple of rebounds and we made some nice plays, but we
just had to play a simple game in the third and we didn't."

The Canadiens goalie recorded his seventh shutout of the season
-- his third in a row against the Bruins -- in Saturday's 2-0 win in
the opener of the two-game set.

Glen Murray assisted on both of Bergeron's goals as he returned
to the Bruins' lineup after missing Saturday's game because of the
flu.

Bulis, who was a healthy scratch for five of Montreal's previous
six games, tied it with his 18th goal on a power play at 2:22.

The Canadiens took a 2-1 lead with the man advantage at 13:24 on
Ryder's team-leading 29th goal but Bergeron squared it at 2 with
his second of the period -- his 28th of the season -- on another
power play at 14:31.

Game notes
Bruins D Brian Leetch returned to the lineup after missing
Saturday's game because of a head injury he suffered in Wednesday's
4-3 loss in Buffalo. Leetch fell into an open bench doorway after
he was high-sticked by Sabres C Daniel Briere, who was given a
two-game suspension by the league the following day. ... Canadiens
RW Richard Zednik was a healthy scratch. ... Montreal has sold out
each of its 37 home games.