Panthers
Canadiens
0 - 1 Final - 2OT
  for this game

Kovalev, Koivu score in shootout to lift Huet, Canadiens to win

Nov 29, 2006 - 3:33 AM
MONTREAL (Ticker) -- After getting silenced in regulation, Alexei Kovalev and the Montreal Canadiens made plenty of noise in the shootout.

Kovalev and Saku Koivu scored in the shootout to preserve a splendid effort by Cristobal Huet as the Canadiens outlasted the Florida Panthers, 1-0.

Huet finished with 36 saves and denied two of Florida's three attempts in the shootout. But even he likely would have had trouble stopping the moves Kovalev and Koivu put on Panthers goaltender Alex Auld.

Kovalev opened the bonus format by deking the netminder and roofing a backhander just under the crossbar. After Ville Peltonen tallied for Florida, Koivu answered with a shift to his backhand before slipping a forehand inside the left goalpost.

"You try to get the two points in regulation time, but when you get to the shootout, it feels good," Koivu said. "It's a pretty exciting way to finish the game. You try to forget the whole game, when we missed some chances."

Huet clinched Montreal's fourth win in five games by holding his ground against Olli Jokinen, who never got off a shot, and Joe Nieuwendyk, who fired a forehand wide of the net to end it.

"It's always team play (that is the key to victory)," Huet said. "And I think we are gaining confidence over the past 10 games. We've been pretty good defensively, making them shoot from the outside and limiting the rebounds."

Huet made perhaps his best stop with 2:24 remaining in overtime, when he recovered to make a sprawling blocker save on defenseman Mike Van Ryn's blast from the slot.

"My eyes lit up," Van Ryn admitted. "I got a fair bit on it and he made a (heck) of a save."

Perhaps the hottest goaltender in the NHL, Huet has won each of his last six starts and has given up a total of only eight goals over that stretch.

"(Huet is) unbelievable. He made some huge saves," Montreal center Steve Begin said. "He plays like he practices; he was there for us big time."

Auld especially shined in the final minute of the extra session, denying blue-liner Sheldon Souray's slap shot with a kick save and surviving a wild scramble in the final seconds.

"The point was huge against a good team," Auld said. "We've got three out of a possible four (points) against these guys, so you have to look at that, but obviously two points would have been better."

Auld finished with 39 saves for the Panthers, who have been shut out in consecutive games for the first time since 2002.

"I never thought I would get a shutout and not win the game," Auld said. "It's kind of crazy."






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