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Canadiens beat Leafs to end home slump

Saturday, 12.15.2007 / 11:41 PM / Game of the Night

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Canadiens' captain Sako Koivu scored a pair of goals as Montreal snapped a six-game home losing skid with a 4-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Home, sweet home.
   
Well, not exactly. But the Montreal Canadiens can feel better about themselves after winning at the Bell Centre for the first time since Nov. 17. Saku Koivu scored twice in the Canadiens’ 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
   
Rookie netminder Carey Price was solid in a 28-save effort in front of a capacity crowd of 21,273 that saw the Canadiens end a six-game slide at home. Koivu’s goals ended the Montreal captain’s 12-game scoring drought.
   
The loss was only the second for the Leafs in their last eight games, and goalie Vesa Toskala allowed more than two goals for the first time during what was an impressive stretch.

The Leafs looked a tad sluggish after picking up a 4-0 victory just 24 hours earlier in Atlanta while the Canadiens waited for them.
   
"We looked like we played last night," Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice said. "We just weren't really sharp. We didn't move the puck really well or get in front of the net. It wasn't great.''
   

Toronto lost more than a game: The Leafs lost a valuable presence on the ice and in the locker room when veteran defenseman Bryan McCabe broke his left wrist in three places in the third period following a hit into the boards from Montreal rookie Andrei Kostsitsyn. McCabe is expected to miss six to eight weeks.
   
"He's a key guy," Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle said of his defense partner. "You don't want to see anybody go down.”
   
Koivu caught a break to end his scoring drought. He threw a backhand shot towards the net that deflected off the skate of Toronto defenseman Hal Gill and past Toskala at 9:03 of the opening period to give the Canadiens a 1-0 lead ( 700K ).
   
Sergei Kostitsyn recorded his first career point on the play with an assist.
   
"I saw Sergei in front and I thought if I just put it in there, something might happen," Koivu said.
   
Koivu put Montreal up by a pair when he scored again at 3:09 of the second period ( 700K ). The Canadiens’ captain made a nifty play as he stopped a feed from Christopher Higgins with his skate before ripping a shot past Toskala.
   
"When you don't score and there's a lot of talk about not scoring, getting that first goal was a big relief," Koivu said. "But this was more about getting that win on home ice.

We played well for 60 minutes and, when you play well defensively, it gives you a chance to win."
   
Andrei Kostitsyn, Sergei’s older brother, made it 3-0 when he scored his third goal in four games at 11:17 of the second period. The 22-year-old forward was able to redirect Mike Komisarek’s shot from the slot past Toskala. Kostitsyn now has points in five straight games.
   
Montreal’s fourth goal of the night was the most painful for Toronto, as the injury to McCabe led to Alexei Kovalev’s 14th of the season with 11:28 to play ( 700K ). With McCabe down on the ice, Kovalev’s rebound chance deflected off Kaberle and past Toskala to make it 4-0.
   
Boyd Devereaux ruined Price’s shutout bid with 4:06 to go ( 700K ). Devereaux had just come out of the penalty box when he beat Price with a wrist shot for his fifth goal of the season.
   
"It's tough, but I'd rather get the win than anything else,” Price said of Toronto’s late tally. “It's nice to win one at home."
   
As far as the Canadiens are concerned, it’s nice to know that goaltenders Price and Cristobal Huet give them a chance to win every night. Huet, who dressed as Price’s backup in his return after a groin injury, has a 2.35 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage in 16 games this season.
   
“I think the advantage that our team right now has is we have two great goaltenders,” Koivu said. “When either one of those guys are playing, we know that we have a chance to win as long as we show up.”
   
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media were used in this report.
Quote of the Day

I didn't even know how to celebrate. I threw my hands up, they gave me a hug, so I guess that's all I needed.

— Sabres forward Tim Schaller on scoring his first NHL goal Sunday against the Bruins