MONTREAL – Cristobal Huet shut out Boston for the third time in a row and Garth Murray had his first career two-goal game to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 2-0 win over the Bruins on Saturday night.
Montreal, which went 10-5-1 in March for its best month in 13 years, has a season-high six-game winning streak. The Canadiens, who host the Bruins again on Tuesday night, began the day in a three-way tie with New Jersey and Tampa Bay for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
Huet made 32 saves for his seventh shutout of the season in 32 games. He trails only league leader Miikka Kiprusoff of Calgary, who had eight shutouts in 66 games through Friday.
Each of Huet’s shutouts has come since Feb. 4, when he made 35 saves in a 2-0 win over the Bruins. The Frenchman stopped 28 shots in a 3-0 win in Boston on March 9.
Murray, who entered with a total of three goals in 46 career games, fought Bruins left wing Dan Lacouture 3:11 into the second and scored his fourth goal of the season later in the period, just moments after Boston goalie Tim Thomas made a spectacular stick save off Richard Zednik.
Thomas stopped 33 shots, including three straight saves off Alex Kovalev as Montreal had a 5-on-3 advantage for 2 minutes of the opening 2:33 of the third period. The Bruins had three consecutive minors called, including penalties to rookie defensemen Mark Stuart and Andrew Alberts 23 seconds apart in the opening minute with veteran defenseman Hal Gill already in the penalty box.
Murray scored his fifth of the season – second of the game – 7:07 into the third, shortly after Huet made a huge save when Boston’s Travis Green batted a puck out of the air.
Montreal has outscored its opponents 17-5 while winning a season-high five straight at the Bell Centre. The Canadiens play five of their eight remaining games at home.
Right wing Glen Murray was sick and did not dress for Boston, which lost its sixth in seven. Glen Murray has three goals and three assists in a five-game points streak.
Huet made a right pad save on Bruins defenseman Brad Stuart’s short-handed breakaway chance during Montreal’s 4-on-3 advantage in the first.
Thomas caught a couple of huge breaks later in the period when Kovalev hit the post and Mike Ribeiro was unable to kick the rebound onto his stick for a shot at a wide open net. Kovalev got another scoring chance off the play but shot wide.
Chants of “Huet! Huet!” came from the sold-out crowd of 21,273 after the Canadiens’ goalie made a fine glove save on defenseman Milan Jurcina’s point shot on a Bruins power play late in the first.
Thomas was able to keep the game scoreless shortly before Garth Murray’s opening goal when he lunged along the ice and used the paddle of his stick to swat away Zednik’s shot at a seemingly wide open net.
Jackets 5, Blackhawks 2
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Mark Hartigan scored twice and added an assist in the third period for his first career multipoint game to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night, tying the franchise mark with their fifth win in a row.
Hartigan had not scored in 18 games before tying the score at 2-2 just 4:49 into the third period. After assisting on Jaroslav Balastik’s go-ahead goal, he added his fourth goal of the season for a 4-2 lead.
Nikolai Zherdev also had a goal and David Vyborny added a short-handed empty-netter. Balastik also had an assist.
The Blue Jackets, who trailed 1-0 in the second period and 2-1 early in the third, have come from behind to earn points in 14 games since Jan. 1 – including eight in which they trailed in the third period. They’ve scored four goals in the third period twice in their current streak, including a 5-4 shootout victory at Detroit a week ago.
Capitals 1, Senators 0
OTTAWA – Brent Johnson made 46 saves, including 16 in the third period, and Dainius Zubrus scored the only goal as the Washington Capitals defeated the Ottawa Senators 1-0 Saturday night.
Johnson recorded his first shutout of the season and the 13th of his career as he frustrated Ottawa shooters, especially in the third period.
Senators goalie Ray Emery, coming off an NHL record-tying 12 wins in March, made 31 saves.
Zubrus scored the only goal of the game after he put a backhand behind Emery with 53 seconds left to play in the second period.
With the Capitals on a power play, Alexander Ovechkin took a shot from just inside the point which Emery stopped, but Zubrus pounced on the rebound.
Maple Leafs 7, Sabres 0
TORONTO – Nik Antropov scored twice in a five-goal first period and the Toronto Maple Leafs routed the Buffalo Sabres 7-0 Saturday night.
Toronto took a 4-0 lead in the first 6:24 as Jeff O’Neill, Ian White, Tie Domi and Antropov scored.
Buffalo has gone 1-7-1 since its season-high eighth straight win against Toronto on March 16.
The Sabres needed a point or an Atlanta loss Saturday night to clinch their first playoff berth since 2000-01.
Alexei Ponikarovsky had a goal and two assists and Matt Stajan also scored for the Maple Leafs, winners of three straight and five of seven.
Thrashers 5, Hurricanes 2
ATLANTA – Ilya Kovalchuk had two goals and the Atlanta Thrashers kept their playoff hopes alive with a 5-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night.
Marc Savard also scored on a first-period penalty shot for Atlanta, which snapped a two-game losing streak. The Thrashers are ninth in the Eastern Conference with 78 points, five behind Tampa Bay for the eighth and final playoff spot.
Carolina, which won the Southeast Division after ending Florida’s seven-game winning streak on Friday, has lost five of nine.
Panthers 4, Lightning 2
SUNRISE, Fla. – Joe Nieuwendyk scored twice and Roberto Luongo stopped 41 shots, including 24 in the third period, as the Florida Panthers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 Saturday night.
Nathan Horton and Olli Jokinen also scored for the Panthers, who moved to six points behind the Lightning for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Martin St. Louis and Darryl Sydor scored for Tampa Bay, and John Grahame had 22 saves before being replaced by Sean Burke late in the second period.
Nieuwendyk’s second goal of the game, a shot from above the right circle that went over Grahame’s shoulder, put Florida ahead 4-1 at 15:43 of the second. Burke replaced Grahame after the goal and finished with nine saves. Tampa Bay closed the gap to 4-2 at 3:48 of the third on Sydor’s power-play goal.
Predators 2, Blues 1
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tomas Vokoun made 35 saves to lead the Nashville Predators to a 2-1 victory over St. Louis on Saturday night, handing the Blues their 10th straight loss.
Nashville snapped a four-game losing streak improved to 6-0-0 against St. Louis this season. The Predators also moved six points ahead of Colorado and Anaheim for fourth place in the Western Conference.
Mike Glumac gave the Blues a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 11:43 of the first period. Vokoun was unable to cover the puck during a goalmouth scramble, and it glanced off Vokouns glove and onto Glumacs stick. The center banged the puck into the net for his sixth goal of the season.
Former Blues center Mike Sillinger tied the game with a power-play goal 41 seconds into the third period. Playing in his 900th career game, Sillinger took the rebound of Yanic Perreaults shot and put the puck past goalie Patrick Lalimes stick. It was Sillingers 28th goal of the season.
Martin Erat got the game-winner for the Predators about 21/2 minutes later. Skating down the right side of the ice, with Blues defenseman Steve Poapst on him, Erat cut to the high slot and fired a wrist shot through the legs of Lalime.
Lalime left the game with 9 minutes remaining in the game after colliding with Nashvilles Scott Hartnell. Lalime was replaced by Reinhard Divis.
Nashville and St. Louis have two games remaining against each other this season, both in St. Louis.
Notes: The Blues, one of Sillinger’s 10 former teams, traded him to Nashville on Jan. 29 in exchange for right wing Timofei Shishkanov. Nashville right wing Jordin Tootoo played in his 100th career NHL game.`