Maple Leafs
Canadiens
3 - 4 Final - 2OT
  for this game

Koivu ignites comeback as Canadiens edge Maple Leafs

Dec 3, 2006 - 3:08 AM
MONTREAL (Ticker) -- Saku Koivu earned the C on his jersey in the third period. Defenseman Sheldon Souray earned the Montreal Canadiens a dramatic victory.

Koivu scored twice in the latter half of the third period and Souray netted the deciding goal in the shootout as the Canadiens rallied for a 4-3 triumph over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Entering with just two goals during their three-game skid, the Maple Leafs tallied twice midway through the first period and again early in the third for a 3-1 lead. However, Montreal's captain netted tallies less than 4 1/2 minutes apart later in the period to knot the contest.

"I had to battle to get to the net on my first goal, and then Kovy (Alexei Kovalev) made a great play to set me up for the third goal," Koivu said.

After a scoreless overtime, Koivu again came up big, beating goaltender Andrew Raycroft in the second round of the shootout to put the Canadiens ahead. Toronto captain Mats Sundin knotted the bonus format on his team's next attempt, but Souray quickly restored Montreal's advantage.

The blue-liner faked a shot to force Raycroft to the ice and drifted to his left before lifting the puck into the vacant net for his first goal in as many shootout attempts this season.

"I don't think too much. When I get in those situations, that's scary," Souray said. "I thought (Raycroft) would expect the shot, so maybe I wanted to try and freeze him a bit and make a little move."

"He froze me," Raycroft admitted. "I've got to have my feet moving a little bit more so I have a bit of a backup plan."

Souray's move even caught the attention of Koivu.

"I was a little surprised by the choice, not that he doesn't have any hands," Koivu said. "But I think everybody was expecting a shot. What a move. It was pretty exciting to watch."

The Canadiens skated off with the win when Kyle Wellwood's shot on the Maple Leafs' last chance caromed off the crossbar.

It was the third shootout in four meetings between the clubs this season. The Canadiens have won two of those three games.

"It seems these games have been up and down," Koivu said. "In every game, they've outplayed us for half the game and we've been able to tie it and go to a shootout."

Alexander Perezhogin also scored in regulation and Cristobal Huet made 36 saves for Montreal, which has won five of its last seven games.

Defenseman Ian White, Sundin and Wellwood tallied for the Maple Leafs, who have won just twice in their last nine contests.

"The way things are going right now, we've got to fight through and get out of it, try and take positives," Raycroft said. "We played well tonight, we just didn't get the outcome we wanted. ... It's not much fun to have a 3-1 lead with nine minutes left and not come through with a win."

"Sometimes you win games you don't deserve to win and you are going to lose some you deserve to win," Sundin added. "I felt we were the better team tonight, but Montreal found a way to win the hockey game."

White opened the scoring at 9:56 of the first period, putting a shot from the low slot past Huet. Just 2:13 later, Sundin skated down the left wing and around defenseman Craig Rivet before beating the Montreal goalie to the short side.

It was the 507th career goal for Sundin, who is one behind Hall of Famer Jean Beliveau for 32nd place on the all-time list. The Swede also raised his points total as a Maple Leaf to 854, just four behind Dave Keon for second in franchise history.

"I liked the way we started the game," Toronto coach Paul Maurice said. "I liked the way we focused on some things. ... We controlled the first (period) completely."

"For some reason, the first period wasn't good for us," Koivu said. "We were lucky to be down only by two goals."

Raycroft denied Michael Ryder on a breakaway early in the second but could not stop Perezhogin, who put a shot from the slot during a 3-on-2 rush past the netminder's stick at 9:19, halving Montreal's deficit.

After Wellwood halted Toronto's drought on the power play at 17 opportunities at 2:21 of the third, Koivu tipped in a pass from Kovalev with 4:36 to go after drawing the Canadiens within 3-2 at 11:17.






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