Koivu’s late goal lifts Canadiens past Kings

MONTREAL (Ticker) — With the boos raining down from the
disgruntled fans at the Bell Centre, the Montreal Canadiens
found a late spark to avoid a fifth straight defeat.

Saku Koivu scored a power-play goal with 23 seconds remaining in
the third period Saturday, lifting the Canadiens to a 4-3
victory over the Kings, who were furious no penalty was called
on Christopher Higgins’ tying goal with 1:53 remaining in

“Sometimes you need a win like this to get the confidence back
and we showed that by playing for the whole 60 minutes,” Koivu
said. “You never know what’s going to happen at the end. We got
the bounces that we needed in the last couple of minutes and got
the two points and those were a huge two points for us.”

The Canadiens were handed the late power play after Kings left
wing Kyle Calder was called for cross-checking Andrei Markov
behind Montreal’s net.

Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped Markov’s slap shot
from the blue line, but Quick could not freeze the puck. As it
lay in the slot, the netminder accidentally swept it into his
own net with his pads, sending those fans at the Bell Centre
into a frenzy.

The goal originally was credited to Markov but later awarded to
Koivu, who notched his eighth of the season.

“I didn’t catch the bounce,” Quick said. “There was a scramble
in front, the puck snuck behind me and ended up going into the
net. It’s one of those goals you want to have back, especially
the timing of the goal. (It) ended up being the difference in
the game.”

The Canadiens returned home Saturday after dropping the final
four contests on their five-game road trip. However, Montreal
was flat for most of the third period and the Kings were able to
nurse a 3-2 lead until the final two minutes.

Los Angeles clamped down defensively, killing two earlier
penalties in the third and allowing only four shots in the first
18 minutes of the period.

But Higgins took a lead pass from Maxim Lapierre and dragged
down Kings rookie defenseman Drew Doughty as he broke toward the

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“We responded for 59 minutes, up to the Higgins’ goal,” Kings
coach Terry Murray said. “The the tying goal was a penalty.
Higgins throws Doughty down but that was a takedown.”

With Doughty on the ice, Higgins skated in alone and slid the
puck between the legs of Quick for his sixth goal of the
campaign and first since November 26.

“You lose a couple of games and you feel the walls closing in on
you, so it was nice to come back and get a win,” Higgins said.
“Especially with Boston (at home) tomorrow, we wanted to make
sure we got the win tonight.”

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Kings, who
had taken a 3-2 lead on Jarret Stoll’s goal with 1:48 remaining
in the second.

Montreal took a 2-1 lead on Andrei Kostitsyn’s power-play goal,
his 17th of the season, 3:53 into the second period. The Kings
tied it just under 10 minutes later on All-Star Dustin Brown’s
20th goal.

“It’s been a tough couple of games, but I think we did a lot of
great things (Saturday),”

Canadiens defenseman Mike Komisarek said. “It was a big step
forward tonight and we have an opportunity to have a great
weekend now with Boston coming in.”

“This is what it will be until the end of the season, facing
teams like Los Angeles, Florida, Tampa Bay, teams on the bubble
or just below that want to move up,” Montreal coach Guy
Carbonneau added. “We have to battle from the first minute to
the last minute.”

Los Angeles defenseman Denis Gauthier received a game misconduct
for charging at 3:50 of the second period when he delivered an
elbow to the head of Montreal defenseman Josh Gorges, who took
himself out of the game at the beginning of the third period.

“I haven’t seen the replay yet so I’ll go home, watch it and go
from there,” Gauthier said. “I don’t want to really comment yet
on something I haven’t seen yet.”