NHL Game Summary - Toronto at Montreal
(Saturday, March 17th)
Final Score: Montreal 3, Toronto 2 (SO)
Montreal, QC (Sports Network) - Saku Koivu and Andrei Kostitsyn scored in the shootout, and Jaroslav Halak made 37 saves as the Montreal Canadiens edged the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-2, in a matchup between two teams looking to stay in the playoff hunt.
After the first player on each side failed to score in the shootout, Mats Sundin sent a wrist shot over the left shoulder of Halak to give Toronto the edge.
Skating next for the Habs, Koivu faked the shot, deked around Andrew Raycroft and slipped the puck into the back of the net to even things up. Yanic Perreault took his turn for Toronto, but his shot slipped off the outside of the far post.
Using nearly the same shot as Koivu, Kostitsyn moved in on the netminder, deked, and wristed the puck past the glove of Raycroft, while Halak denied the final chance by Darcy Tucker to ice the game for Montreal.
Kastsitsyn and Koivu also scored in regulation for the Canadiens, who have won three of four.
Kyle Wellwood had a goal and an assist, and Pavel Kubina also tallied for Toronto, which has dropped two straight and three of its last five. Raycroft finished with 29 saves in a losing cause.
The Leafs and Habs are now locked in a three-way tie, along with the New York Islanders, for the ninth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. With 78 points, they all remain one point back of the New York Rangers, who hold the eighth position after a decisive victory over Boston on Saturday night.
"If we had lost this game it would have been tough to bounce back, but it was a big extra point for us," said Koivu. "It ties us with Toronto, and from here on to the end it will be playoff matches. Hopefully we can battle for one of the last playoff positions for seventh or eighth spot."
Montreal took a 1-0 lead in the first when Kostitsyn made a nifty move around Toronto defenseman Hal Gill and sent a shot through the legs of Raycroft at 6:05.
Wellwood then knotted it at 1-1 with a power play marker for Toronto. Bryan McCabe sent a pass from the top of the point onto the blade of Wellwood's stick as he moved from right to left and wristed the shot past Halak's left skate at 15:01.
Koivu put the Canadiens up 2-1 in the middle stanza when he nabbed the puck off a turnover by Bates Battaglia and beat Raycroft with a backhand shot at 10:01.
Kubina tied it in the third when he took a backhand pass from Wellwood just inside the blue line, moved forward and fired a wrister from the high slot that snuck past Halak on the glove side at 8:41.
"We certainly created enough chances to get back in the game," said Sundin. "We got a point out of this game, but the shootout is a crapshoot. We haven't had great success in the shootout. It's a 50/50 chance, and except for the first 10 minutes I felt we were the better team, but we have to come out quicker and harder."
Toronto is 3-1-3 against Montreal this season...The Maple Leafs have dropped five of the last six road games in the series, including three of four this season...Sundin is still a goal shy of matching Darryl Sittler's franchise record of 389...Koivu has five goals and two assists in the season series...The teams have gone to the shootout four times this season...Alex Kovalev returned to the lineup for Montreal after missing the last two games because of vertigo.
03/17 23:37:30 ET