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Andrei Kostitsyn, Halak help Canadiens end slide

DENVER (Ticker) -- Andrei Kostitsyn's breakaway goal and an

excellent effort by their backup goaltender helped the Montreal

Canadiens avoid their longest losing streak of the season.

Kostitsyn snapped a tie late in third period as the Canadiens

snapped a four-game slide Friday with a 4-2 victory over the

Colorado Avalanche.

The 24-year-old's heroics would not have been possible if not

for Jaroslav Halak, who made a career-high 46 saves.

"It wasn't easy, but we got the two points, and we needed

those," Halak said. "It was a tough game because they were

shooting from everywhere. They were driving the net - always

somebody in front of me."

Defensemen Francis Bouillon and Patrice Brisebois scored 57

seconds apart late in the first period and Tom Kostopoulos added

a shorthanded empty-netter for the Canadiens, who had lost nine

of their previous 11 contests.

"In the first period, (Halak) made two key saves, and we felt on

the bench that it gave us momentum," Brisebois said. "Right

after that, we scored a goal, and then we got another one. It

was fun to play with the lead because we've been behind a lot

and had to play catch-up hockey. It's hard to win games in the

NHL like that."

Blue-liner Jordan Leopold and Tyler Arnason tallied and Peter

Budaj stopped 19 shots for the Avalanche, who have dropped four

in a row.

"It's a tough loss, but we have to find a way to get points any

way we can," Leopold said. "It was a tough battle out there,

and we had our chances to do something."

"It's extremely disappointing we ended up losing that game,"

Colorado defenseman John-Michael Liles added. "It's

unfortunate. I thought it was one of our better games."

With the game knotted at 2-2, defenseman Mathieu Dandenault

lofted a pass over defenders to Kostitsyn, who did an excellent

job corralling the bouncing puck. Kostitsyn then deked to his

backhand and stuffed the puck between the pads of Budaj with

2:16 to play.

"We got the puck in the neutral zone, and at the red line, my

teammate made a great pass to me in the zone," Kostitsyn said.

"I got to the net and scored."

Nine seconds after Montreal blue-liner Josh Gorges was whistled

for interference, Kostopoulos sealed the win with a shot from

his own zone that trickled into the vacant net with 25 seconds

remaining.

Less than a minute after Bouillon opened the scoring with 2:51

remaining in the first period, Brisebois doubled the Canadiens'

advantage with a power-play goal.

All-Star defenseman Andrei Markov's shot from the high slot hit

captain Saku Koivu in front. Brisebois collected the puck at

the right faceoff circle and fired a wrist shot past an

unsuspecting Budaj.

"It wasn't the prettiest of wins, but sometimes you need a game

like this to get back on track and build some confidence," Koivu

said. "We had some great plays by our goaltender tonight."

Montreal was dominated after taking a two-goal lead, getting

outshot by a 36-9 margin over the final 40 minutes.

Fortunately for the Canadiens, Halak was spectacular. He

stopped three different breakaway chances, including one by Cody

McCormick midway through the third that preserved Montreal's 2-1

edge.

"We put everything at (Halak)," Colorado's Ian Laperriere said.

"We tied the game at the end and they just came back. We had

almost 50 shots on net, but (Halak) played well for them

tonight. We should have had more than two goals, but he made a

couple great saves."

"The way we've been playing lately, we needed one goalie to step

up, and Jaroslav did that tonight," Canadiens coach Guy

Carbonneau said. "He made the saves when we needed, and I think

that's a good start for our club."

Halak did make a mistake with seven minutes remaining, allowing

Arnason's slap shot to trickle between his pads and forge a 2-2

deadlock.

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