Montreal 3, Boston 1

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MONTREAL (TICKER) Mathieu Garon made good on his coach’s hunch and spoiled Jeff Hackett’s return to the Bell Centre.

Garon stopped 42 shots and newcomer Niklas Sundstrom scored the eventual game-winner late in the second period as the Montreal Canadiens held on for a 3-1 victory over the Boston Bruins.

Recalled from the minors last month after Hackett was sent to Boston as part of a three-team trade, Garon blanked Washington on Sunday in his season debut. Rookie coach Claude Julien gave Garon a second straight start ahead of Hart and Vezina Trophy winner Jose Theodore and the 25-year-old Quebec native came through.

“There’s no goaltending controversy on my team,” Julien insisted. “Mathieu deserved another start. I had a good feeling about him before the game. He came out and answered the bell.”

“Jose Theodore is the No. 1 goalie here. I am his backup,” Garon declared. “I’m ready to play anytime they want me. I want to prove that I belong in the NHL. Sure, I had a good record in the American League. But I just want to help this team get into the playoffs.”

Garon turned aside all 29 shots over the first two periods as he bid for a second straight shutout. He finally gave up a goal to defenseman Don Sweeney 2:25 into the third but came up with his biggest stop with 2:08 to go when he denied Glen Murray from close range off a turnover by Saku Koivu.

Just 38 seconds later, Jan Bulis finished off a 2-on-1 with Randy McKay and scored an insurance goal while falling at the right faceoff dot.

“Lately, I’ve been having some good games,” said Bulis, who has four goals in February after combining for four in the previous two months. “It was on a line change. I came on the ice and before I knew it, Randy McKay had the puck and he passed it over to me.”

Mike Ribeiro opened the scoring 6:27 into the second period and Sundstrom - acquired in last month’s Hackett trade - made it 2-0 at 18:19.

Montreal has won two in a row following a four-game losing streak and climbed within three points of third-place Boston in the Northeast Division.

“After this game, we’re in the eighth spot (in the conference),” Julien said. “But the other teams have games in hand. We’re going to battle until the end.”

Hackett made 29 saves for the Bruins, who have lost four of five.

“It was tough for me coming back to Montreal. I’m happy to get this game out of the way,” said Hackett, who spent parts of five seasons with the Canadiens. “I enjoyed it here. I had so many friends. … But now it’s time for me to turn the page. A chapter is over. I hope the next time I face the Canadiens, it’s in the conference finals.”

Boston held Montreal to one shot in the first 18 1/2 minutes of the game, but Garon kept the game scoreless by stopping Murray on a breakaway.

“I knew Garon got that shutout Sunday night, but I still was surprised to see him start,” Hackett said.

Ribeiro broke through by deflecting defenseman Andrei Markov’s shot past Hackett for his fourth goal of the season and first in six games.

Sundstrom got his fourth goal in nine games with the Canadiens to double the lead at 18:19. Joe Juneau’s behind-the-back pass deflected to the left faceoff circle, where the Swedish winger put a shot between Hackett’s pads.

Sweeney halved the Bruins’ deficit when his point shot soared over Garon’s right shoulder. But that was all Boston could manage as it lost for the sixth time in its last seven road games.

“I can’t complain about the effort by my team,” Bruins coach Robbie Ftorek said. “We got one goal by Garon. We would have liked to have scored more. … I thought we had the pressure on the Canadiens in the first period, but the referee kept giving us penalties.”

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Goalie Team Shot Save
Jeff Hackett Phi 32 29