Reuters - Wed, 17 Mar 02:57:00 2010
Sergei Kostitsyn and Tomas Plekanec scored third-period goals to help the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers, their sixth successive NHL victory.
Kostitsyn broke a 1-1 deadlock with a wrist shot at 5:59 in the last period before Plekanec provided the finishing touches into an empty net with 36 seconds remaining.
"I think what's important for our team right now is to really focus one game at a time," Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said.
"You know, going down the stretch some of the tougher games to play are when teams are eliminated and they play loose."
Canadiens centre Glen Metropolit had beaten New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist 3:34 into the first to open the scoring before Sean Avery tied the game two minutes into the second.
Montreal (36-29-6) are sixth in the Eastern Conference, while the Rangers (31-30-9) have lost five of their last seven to fall to ninth and three points behind the Boston Bruins for the final play-off spot.
Lundqvist made 32 saves from 34 shots and was particularly busy in the second period when he stopped all 18.
New York was held to just 20 shots including four by Avery whose goal was his third in two games.
Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak made 19 saves. Montreal, without injured leading goal scorer Mike Cammalleri, have posted a 7-1 record since the NHL schedule resumed following the Vancouver Olympics.
"We're playing well right now. We're putting things together," said Canadiens defenseman Hal Gill.
"Tonight's a good example of finding a way to win. We had pressure on them and we couldn't get the goals, but we stuck with it and found a way."