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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

regulation.

"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

goal.

"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."

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