January 11, 2003
MONTREAL (AP) -- Stu Barnes and the Buffalo Sabres are keeping it simple as they try to overcome a terrible start.
Barnes had a goal and an assist, and Martin Biron made 25 saves to lead Buffalo to a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
Defensemen Alexei Zhitnik and Henrik Tallinder also scored for the Sabres, who have won four of five in January, including a 4-2 victory over Boston on Friday night. Buffalo, 12-23-5-2 overall, has just four wins in 21 road games this season.
``January's been good so far,'' Barnes said. ``We've played better and we're just taking it a game at a time and a day at a time. It's the old cliche but really for us, that's where we're at. It's still a long road ahead.''
Biron started for the first time in six games to earn his first win since Dec. 18.
``I felt comfortable, especially off the bat,'' said Biron, who stopped 12 of 13 shots in the first. ``A few guys streaked in to the side and I was able to feel it hit the shoulder, get the glove and cover it. That was a good sign.''
Montreal, which has just one win in its last nine games, got goals from Saku Koivu and rookie Marcel Hossa -- his third in as many games since being recalled from the minors.
Barnes, who assisted on Zhitnik's goal 48 seconds in, made it 3-1 early in the third when he scored his ninth goal.
Koivu scored with 16:12 remaining to draw Montreal within one, extending his points streak to seven games.
Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore made 29 saves, including 15 in the second period when Montreal was outshot 16-5.
``The second was embarrassing,'' Canadiens defenseman Stephane Quintal said. ``It's good for the defensemen to join the rush but we have to do it intelligently. We gave up at least seven odd-man rushes. The score would have been 8-2 if it weren't for Theodore.''
Trailing 1-0 after Zhitnik beat Theodore with a shot from the point in the game's first minute, the Canadiens squared it with 41 seconds left in the first when Hossa one-timed a pass from Patrick Traverse past Biron.
Tallinder gave the Sabres a 2-1 lead when he beat Theodore 1:57 into the second for his third goal of the season.
Theodore made several big saves late in the second to keep the Canadiens within one, including a huge pad stop on Miroslav Satan on a Buffalo power play in the final minute of the period.
``The game should have been a runaway. Theodore was fabulous,'' Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. ``I think we had five two-on-ones, a partial breakaway, and a crossbar and he gave them a chance to win. We saw a lot of that last year, where he plays like that and those games go the other way and they find a wayto win a hockey game.''
Sabres rookie Ales Kotalik, who scored two goals in each of his three previous games, assisted on Zhitnik's goal to extend his points streak to five games. Kotalik has six goals and three assists during his streak. ... Koivu has two goals and eight assists in his seven-game points streak. ... Canadiens LW Doug Gilmour returned after missing four straight games because of a sore lowerback.
Updated on Saturday, Jan 11, 2003 10:49 pm, EST
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