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Rangers 4, Canadiens 3 @NHL

MONTREAL (AP) -The New York Rangers were well aware of how many sick players the Montreal Canadiens had, and used that knowledge to their benefit.

Matt Cullen scored his second goal of the game 13:55 into the third period and the Rangers extended their winning streak to four with a 4-3 victory over the flu-ridden Canadiens on Saturday.

Henrik Lundqvist made 21 saves for the Rangers, whose surge has come after a seven-game skid - New York's longest losing streak since late in the 2003-04 season.

"We were sick and depleted a couple of weeks ago and we went on a seven-game losing streak, and teams didn't really feel sorry for us," said Brendan Shanahan, who set up Cullen's winner. "I guess you can feel for them, but at the same time you try to take advantage of them."

Lundqvist, who faced only three shots in the first when the Rangers held an 11-3 advantage, made his seventh straight start since being sidelined for four games because of the flu.

"I didn't know they had a problem," Lundqvist said. "It can always affect you a little bit, but the guys that were out there were doing their best so I don't know how much it affected them. Their power play kept them in the game. I think we managed the game really well and 5-on-5 we were the better team today. We created a lot of chances and played really well."

The Canadiens were without captain Saku Koivu - Montreal's leading scorer with 39 points - and right wing Guillaume Latendresse because of a virus that has hit several players.

"We wanted that win. It would have been pretty nice considering how the team feels," forward Chris Higgins said.

Cullen, who opened the scoring with his eighth goal midway through the first, gave New York its third and final lead with 6:05 remaining when he once again fired a hard wrist shot past goalie David Aebischer into the top of the net.

"The first one, I just got a quick look and I had a little room, and then the second one, I just got it and shot it," Cullen said. "It was reaction more than anything."

Sheldon Souray scored Montreal's third power-play goal 8:40 into the third to tie it at 3. Souray, who has scored 11 of his 14 goals with the man advantage, got his own rebound and drove a second slap shot past Lundqvist as Montreal drew even for the second time.

Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr was limited to 9:49 in total ice time because of a slight groin pull. Jagr, who has 16 goals and leads New York with 38 assists and 54 points, didn't play in the third.

"It's merely precautionary because he's a pretty valuable guy for us," coach Tom Renney said.

Rangers defenseman Michal Rozsival, who assisted on Martin Straka's 22nd goal in the second to put New York up 2-0, gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead just 38 seconds into the third when he took Straka's pass from the right corner and beat Aebischer with a slap shot from the point.

Mark Streit and Tomas Plekanec also scored power-play goals in the second as Montreal came back from a 2-0 deficit.

Mikhail Grabovski, recalled along with Maxime Lapierre from Hamilton of the AHL on Friday, made his NHL debut centering a line with Alex Kovalev and Sergei Samsonov.

The rookie had a goal disallowed in the second because Mike Johnson batted the puck to him with his hand.

Cullen opened the scoring 10:20 in when he drove in on Aebischer and fired a hard wrist shot over the goalie's left shoulder into the top right corner.

Straka made it 2-0 with a power-play goal 6:36 into the second, but Montreal came back to tie it on Streit's third goal at 10:25 and Plekanec's sixth at 14:14.

New York scored twice in the third, outshooting the Canadiens 14-11 in the final period and 34-24 overall.

"We talked about going out in the third period and putting a lot of pressure on their team, on their defense, you know, this is what they're going through," Shanahan said. "It's a tough time and lots of teams go through that, whether it's schedule or sickness or injuries, but you still have to come out and win games."

Notes: The Rangers had a season-high five-game winning streak from Dec. 7-14 before their seven-game losing streak. ... Souray tied a team record for power-play goals by a defenseman set by Guy Lapointe in 1974-75 and matched by Mathieu Schneider in 1993-94 and Patrice Brisebois in 2000-01. ... Plekanec has three goals in his last three games after scoring only three in his first 38 games of the season. ... Canadiens RW Aaron Downey was a healthy scratch.

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