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Kostitsyn leads Habs past Coyotes in OT

by Arpon Basu

MONTREAL - Andrei Kostitsyn summed up in three words not only how he's feeling, but also how he's been playing this season.

Kostitsyn continued his torrid start to the year by scoring at 1:25 of overtime and adding an assist to give the Montreal Canadiens a 3-2 win Monday over the Phoenix Coyotes at the Bell Centre.

"I feel great," Kostitsyn said in the dressing room, moments after he was serenaded by the 21,273 in attendance for being named first star of the game for the second time this season.

Kostitsyn's linemates – Michael Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec – each added a goal for the Canadiens (5-2-1), who have won four of their last five games.

"He's just playing well," Cammalleri said. "He's got a compete level in his game right now that's really nice. Even early in the game you see him get in there and finish checks and turn pucks over and create offense."

Kostitsyn's goal and his assist on Plekanec's goal gave him 8 points in 8 games. To show just how much better Kostitsyn is playing, last season it took him 23 games to reach the same point total.

His line with Plekanec and Cammalleri has accounted for 11 of the Canadiens 20 goals this season.

"We all know what he's capable of, but we need him to keep going," Cammalleri said. "It's early."

Kyle Turris and Derek Morris scored for the struggling Coyotes (2-3-2), who have only one win since returning from their trip to Europe to open the season.

"We found a way to lose the game again tonight," said goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who was outstanding with 26 saves, including one on a Cammalleri breakaway in the third. "We've had three overtime games and we've lost them all."

Kostitsyn's winner was his fifth goal of the season, and he made it a dramatic one. After Josh Gorges held the puck in at the blue line and let go a shot on Bryzgalov, rookie Lars Eller took a swipe at the puck before it popped out to Kostitsyn. He made no mistake, lodging it upstairs before going flying over Morris while he celebrated the goal.

"He made it look good on TV, I'm sure," Eller said with a grin.

Both goaltenders were extremely sharp, with the Canadiens' Carey Price one-upping Bryzgalov with 27 saves to get the win.

Cammalleri's goal came on the much-maligned Canadiens power play, snapping an 0-for-15 skid for a unit that finished second in the League in efficiency last season.

"It's nothing crazy special, guys … I just shot it," Cammalleri originally said about his goal.

But when reminded that it came on the power play, he changed his tune.
"No, that was huge," he said. "The power play part, I won't underplay that. We needed that."

The Coyotes' power play has been even worse than Montreal's but snapped a drought of its own when Morris scored to tie it in the third. Phoenix had been in 0-for-17 streak that began in Prague, where the Coyotes opened the season against the Boston Bruins.

Meanwhile, Turris looks like he is living up to the promise that made him the third overall pick in the 2007 Entry Draft. After a third period in Phoenix's last game where he scored twice and assisted on the game-tying goal to almost single-handedly erase a 3-0 deficit, Turris notched his third of the season and was dangerous much of the night centering a line with Wojtek Wolski and Scottie Upshall.   

"I'm just trying to put everything on net and get open," Turris said. "(Wolski) and (Upshall) are playing great, we're feeding off each other and creating chances. We just have to keep it going."

After Price and Bryzgalov put on a show in the first, turning aside 10 and 11 shots respectively to keep things scoreless, Turris opened the scoring early in the second.

He converted a nice feed from Wolski at 2:49 to give him a point on four straight Coyotes goals dating back to the 4-3 overtime loss to Carolina on Saturday.
The Canadiens tied it at 7:14 on a pinball play where Kostitsyn hit a post, but the puck bounced to Plekanec on the other side of the net for his third of the season.  

Cammalleri's power-play goal was also his third of the season as he walked off the half boards and wired a wrist shot past Bryzgalov.

But Morris tied it when his shot from the blue line made it through a maze of players in front and flew past Price's left shoulder for his first of the season.

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