<
>

Zednik's goal lifts Montreal to ninth win in 10 games

MONTREAL (AP) -- Bob Gainey used an effective approach to coax a
big goal out of a struggling player.

Richard Zednik scored for the first time in more than a month
midway through the third period to snap a tie and push the Montreal
Canadiens to a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Monday
night.

Zednik, a healthy scratch for three straight games, backhanded a
rebound into an open right side at 9:27 to give Montreal its second
lead. He paid for his first goal in 14 games since March 7 by being
pushed face first into the crossbar by Ottawa's Peter Schaefer.

"I think he's proven over a long period of time that he's
capable of that," said Gainey, Montreal's coach and general
manager. "Tonight, we were able to access that part of his play."

David Aebischer made 35 saves to defeat Ottawa for the second
time in five days. Chris Higgins scored for the fourth straight
game and Sheldon Souray also had a goal for Montreal, which moved
into seventh place in the Eastern Conference -- two points ahead of
Tampa Bay.

"It was a tremendous effort by the team, especially in the
second and third periods," said Aebischer, who won his third start
in a row after losing his first two following his acquisition in
the March 8 trade that sent goalie Jose Theodore to Colorado.

The Canadiens, two points behind sixth-place New Jersey, have
won nine of 10. Montreal bounced back from a 3-2 loss to the Devils
on Saturday that snapped an eight-game winning streak, its longest
in over 13 years.

Dany Heatley extended his team record to 48 goals for Ottawa,
which has lost a season-high four straight and remained tied with
Carolina for first place in the East with 108 points.

Rookie defenseman Andrej Meszaros also scored for the Senators,
who hadn't lost more than two in a row before this skid.

"I don't think we were worried about the outcome," Senators
center Bryan Smolinski said. "I think we had a plan in mind, it
was to play hard, get some passion back in our game and then see
where it takes us. Unfortunately, it was on the wrong side of this
one."

Aebischer, who made 44 saves Thursday in a 5-3 win in Ottawa,
stopped 15 shots in the first as the Senators held a 16-10 margin
in the period and 37-25 overall.

"Ottawa, as they were in Ottawa, were really in control in the
first period," Gainey said.

Senators forward Patrick Eaves sustained a lower body injury in
the second period and didn't return. Ottawa was already playing
without goalie Dominik Hasek and top three defensemen Zdeno Chara,
Wade Redden and Chris Phillips.

"It was a playoff-type game but I thought we had the better
scoring chances and we showed our heart out there, how much we
wanted to win it," Emery said. "Aebischer made some saves and I
didn't, so it can't happen."

Higgins opened the scoring 2:57 in with his 23rd goal after
Montreal killed off Mike Komisarek's holding penalty. Ray Emery
stopped Andrei Markov's wrist shot, but Higgins got the rebound and
put a backhand past the Ottawa goalie for his ninth goal in eight
games.

Jason Spezza extended his Senators record with his 68th assist,
and Daniel Alfredsson added his 54th when Meszaros redirected
Spezza's shot past Aebischer on Ottawa's second power play at 5:53.

Heatley gave Ottawa a 2-1 lead when he recovered his own rebound
and moved around Aebischer to tuck a backhand into the right side
at 11:10.

Souray tied it 6:58 into the second with his 11th goal,
one-timing a puck off the left boards past Emery from a sharp
angle.

Game notes
Senators RW Martin Havlat was cleared to return to the
lineup Saturday in Toronto. Havlat was examined in Cleveland
earlier in the day by Dr. Anthony Miniaci, who performed surgery on
Havlat's dislocated right shoulder on Dec. 10. ... Canadiens
centers Steve Begin and Radek Bonk didn't play. Begin sprained his
knee in Saturday's loss, and Bonk has an unspecified leg injury.
... C Maxim Lapierre was recalled by Montreal from Hamilton of the
AHL earlier Monday but he didn't dress. ... The Canadiens sold out
their first 39 home games.