GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) _ From Jose Theodore's viewpoint, the Montreal
Canadiens played just well enough to beat Phoenix _ and stay on New Jersey's
heels for sixth in the Eastern Conference.
Theodore made 21 saves, and Saku Koivu and Richard Zednik each had a goal
and an assist in Montreal's 4-3 win over the Coyotes on Friday night. The two
points gave the Canadiens 78 to New Jersey's 81 with another big contest coming
up Saturday night in Los Angeles.
``Back-to-back games this time of year, you've got to play well, and points
are really important,'' Theodore said. ``I don't think tonight we played the
kind of game we wanted to play, which is a playoff type of game. We got some
penalties that could have cost us.''
Special teams sparkled for Montreal, which got power-play goals from Pierre
Dagenais and Koivu and a short-handed goal from Jim Dowd in his first game with
the Canadiens. Andrei Markov had two assists, and they won again after seeing a
five-game winning streak snapped Wednesday at San Jose.
The debut wasn't as fortunate for Alex Kovalev, another forward seeing his
first action for the Habs. He separated his right shoulder in the second period
and was listed as day to day.
``It's frustrating for sure,'' Theodore said. ``You got one of the top guys
in the league, and he gets hurt.''
Daymond Langkow, Mike Comrie and Chris Gratton scored for Phoenix.
The Coyotes, winless in seven games (0-4-1-2) tried to rally from a 4-1
deficit in the third period and fell short.
Zednik produced the three-goal lead when he shot from the high slot after a
pass from Markov, beating Brian Boucher 43 seconds in.
``It ended up being the winning goal,'' coach Claude Julien said. ``That
type of game, we should have controlled it from there on in, but for the second
game in a row we took some bad penalties, so we certainly have to get better in
Comrie made it 4-2 just 2:15 later, and Gratton scored a power-play goal at
the 4:05 mark.
But the Canadiens allowed the Coyotes just four more shots the rest of the
way, and Theodore handled them for the win.
``For whatever reason, we seem to play desperate when we get down a couple
of goals, and we need to play like that at the start,'' Langkow said.
After a scoreless first period, the Canadiens scored three times in the
They broke through against Boucher, who had 10 of his 21 saves in the first
period, when Dagenais deflected Markov's wrist shot 2:46 in.
Phoenix responded 40 seconds later when Langkow wristed a rebound over a
fallen Theodore, but Montreal regained the lead with 6:29 remaining on a
brilliant play by Andreas Dackell.
He stole the puck from Shane Doan along the boards, skated into the left
circle and passed across to Dowd at the crease. Dowd, acquired Thursday from
Minnesota, redirected the puck just enough to bank it in off the opposite goal
``Dacks made a great play there,'' Dowd said. ``I drove to the net. It was
on his forehand. I knew he was going to try to pass. The defense played it
well, and he made a great backhand pass just right at my tape end.''
Koivu also profited from a mistake by Phoenix's captain _ Doan was in the
penalty box for slashing when the Finnish center's shot from above the circle
found its way through Boucher's pads with 4:24 to go.
``I know it looks like four goals on 25 shots, but I felt better about my
game,'' said Boucher, 1-12-2 in his last 15 starts.