Canadiens get a quick win in OT

By wire services
Published February 10, 2006

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Shaking off a late game-tying goal and news that goaltender Jose Theodore tested positive for a banned substance, Alex Kovalev scored 39 seconds into overtime, lifting the Canadiens to a 3-2 win over the Sabres on Thursday night.

It was Kovalev's second goal of the game and allowed Montreal to improve to 3-0-1 in its last four - the string coming after the Canadiens (26-22-7) lost 13 of 19 games and fell out of playoff contention.

"You can't let down," Kovalev said. "The confidence is coming back and that's nice to see."

The Sabres had a six-game win streak snapped and also lost forward Jochen Hecht, who will miss at least two weeks with a sprained knee. The injury will also force Hecht, a member of the German national team, to miss the Turin Olympics.

Hecht, who scored the Sabres' first goal, was hurt after being checked by Jan Bulis midway through the third period. Bulis broke up a scoring chance, upending Hecht, who failed to get a shot off while set up to the left of the net.

Theodore tested positive for a banned substance in pre-Olympic screening because he was using a hair-growth drug that can be used as a masking agent. The test wasn't part of the NHL's new testing program, so he will not be subject to league discipline. He was not picked for Canada's Olympic team, but was on the preliminary 81-player eligibility list. No punishment was handed down because he is appealing to an arbitrator.

DEVILS 3, BRUINS 2 (OT): Brian Gionta scored his second goal in overtime and Martin Brodeur made 37 saves as New Jersey snapped a three-game road losing streak. Sergei Brylin circled the net and connected with a streaking Gionta, who knocked the puck past goalie Tim Thomas while falling to the ice at 2:10 of overtime.

THRASHERS 2, SENATORS 1: Ilya Kovalchuk and Andy Sutton scored power-play goals and Kari Lehtonen made 34 saves as visiting Atlanta won for the second time in three games. Kovalchuk tied it late in the second with his 37th goal, which moved him ahead of the Rangers' Jaromir Jagr for the league lead. Sutton put Atlanta ahead midway through the third with his third of the season. Ottawa rookie Andre Meszaros scored an unassisted goal 14:50 into the second to open the scoring, but that was all the Senators could muster despite outshooting the Thrashers 35-22.

RED WINGS 3, PREDATORS 2: Mathieu Schneider scored with 6:31 left as visiting Detroit beat Nashville for the second straight night. Robert Lang and Kris Draper each scored goals as the Red Wings, who won 6-0 in Detroit on Wednesday night, widened their divisional lead to nine points with their fifth straight victory.

AVALANCHE 2, WILD 1: Joe Sakic's goal with 5:44 remaining lifted visiting Colorado. David Aebischer, who has an 11-3-2 record since the new year began and an 8-2 career mark against Minnesota, had 33 saves as Colorado improved to 12-3-3 in its past 18 games.

STARS 5, COYOTES 1: Niko Kapanen scored three goals, Sergei Zubov added three assists as visiting Dallas won for the eighth time in nine games (8-0-1). The loss was Phoenix's second straight since a criminal complaint was filed Monday accusing Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet of financing a gambling ring. Tocchet was granted an indefinite leave of absence by the NHL on Wednesday.