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
``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.