MONTREAL (AP) _ As the playoffs approach, Sean Burke is making a push to be the Philadelphia Flyers top goalie.
Burke made 24 saves for his second shutout of the season and the Flyers strengthened their hold on first place in the Atlantic Division with a 2-0 victory over the slumping Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.
Simon Gagne and Michal Handzus scored for the Flyers, who had lost their previous two games with Robert Esche in goal.
``As a goaltender, you just go out and play hard,'' said Burke, who was acquired Feb. 9 from Phoenix for forward Mike Comrie. ``Those decisions are made by other people, but you want to make the decision tough for them.''
The shutout was the 35th of Burke's career.
``I've played for 16 years and I came in here to do what I do _ give our team good goaltending when I play. I haven't thought about the decision. We'll see. I don't want to be a guy who is there just in case. You want to be a guy they can count on,'' he said.
The victory gave the Flyers (40-20-14-6) 100 points, two more than second-place New Jersey. Both teams have two games left.
The Canadiens lost a fifth straight game and missed a chance to clinch seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
``We got the effort tonight and we haven't had that in a while,'' Montreal coach Claude Julien said. ``The negative thing is we lost, but it's encouraging to see the effort. At even strength, we were the better team, but Burke made the saves for them.''
The Canadiens have 91 points, three more than the New York Islanders, who have two games left. Montreal ends its season Saturday night at home against Buffalo.
``We had the solution tonight, which was the effort,'' he said. ``Now we just need the result, which is to win.''
The Flyers were on one of their four second-period power plays when Jeremy Roenick passed in the crease to Gagne for a shot into an open net, behind Jose Theodore at 8:08.
The sell-out crowd of 21,273 was booing after Handzus won a battle behind the net and flipped the puck inside the near post at 8:28 of the third period.
Burke was tested when Alex Kovalev broke in alone in the second period but managed to steer the shot wide.
Jan Bulis was stopped in front early in the third, while rookie Michael Ryder created several chances but failed to beat the big goalie.
Montreal has only four goals in its last five games.
|PPG - Simon Gagne (24) ASST: Jeremy Roenick (28), Joni Pitkanen (19)|
1 - 0 PHI
|Michal Handzus (19) ASST: John Leclair (31)|
2 - 0 PHI
|Power Play %||23.4%||16.5%|
|% on Road||18.6%||10.7%|
|% at Home||28.0%||22.1%|
|Michal Handzus Holding the stick against Saku Koivu|
|Pierre Dagenais Hooking against Simon Gagne|
|Tony Amonte Tripping against Saku Koivu|
|Jim Dowd Holding the stick against Eric Desjardins|
|Keith Primeau Hi-sticking against Mike Ribeiro|
|Andrei Markov Hooking against Keith Primeau|
|Alex Kovalev Elbowing against Mattias Timander|
|Jim Dowd Hi-sticking against Patrick Sharp|
|John Leclair Hooking against Jan Bulis|
|Jim Dowd Hi-sticking against Sami Kapanen|
|Saku Koivu Hooking against Michal Handzus|
|Alexei Zhamnov Hooking against Mike Ribeiro|
|Patrice Brisebois Holding the stick against Sami Kapanen|