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Happy reunion

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
Koivu, Ryder and Higgins explode for eight points

MONTREAL - After getting off to a scorching start to the season and then cooling off before being split up, the Canadiens' top line of Saku Koivu, Michael Ryder and Christopher Higgins are together again and loving every minute of it.

Much like they did earlier in the season, the trio is once again leading the charge for the Habs. After accounting for almost half of the team's offense over the course of the past three games, the line was at it again versus the Capitals with four more goals. The trio  - which combined for eight points against the Caps, including a pair of goals each for Higgins and Ryder - has now figured in six of the Canadiens' last seven goals.

"It's a long season and all players at some point or another are going to go through a rough patch," explained Koivu, who with three assists against Washington now has five points in his last two games.

The only thing that stopped Koivu, Ryder and Higgins on this night was a third period undisclosed upper-body injury to Higgins.

"It was nice to see Chris breakout tonight and get rewarded for all of his hard work," added Koivu after seeing Higgins snap out of a 16-game scoring drought. "We knew it was just a matter of time before he got it going again. I hope his injury isn't anything serious."

Head coach Guy Carbonneau is also crossing his fingers that Higgins will be able to shake off whatever caused him to leave the game five minutes into the final frame.

"It was a great sign to see Higgins get his confidence back like that," said Carbonneau, who couldn't be happier to see his top line back firing on all cylinders. "They look like the dominant line that we saw leading up to the holidays."

Ryder was also breathing a sigh of relief in light his line's recent resurgence.

"It all comes back to confidence," explained Ryder, the game's first star. "Once you lose it, it's tough to get it back. But we've finally done it and it feels really good.

"Having things clicking again makes everything so much easier," said Ryder. "The puck is feeling good on our sticks like it did before. It was great to put a couple in tonight and to get back to the chemistry we had earlier in the season. We just have to take this momentum with us on the road because we're going to need it."

That tall order away from the cozy confines of the Bell Centre will begin in Nashville Thursday night against Peter Forsberg and the Western Conference leading Predators.

Manny Almela is a writer for

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