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Souray, Koivu have goal, assist each

12/23/2003

MONTREAL (AP) -- The Montreal Canadiens are running out of time
to put a winning streak together before the upcoming holiday break.

Saku Koivu and Sheldon Souray had a goal and an assist apiece,
and Jose Theodore made 16 saves to lead Montreal to a 4-1 win
Monday night over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Canadiens haven't earned consecutive wins in two months.
They will have a chance for their first winning streak since Oct.
20-23 on Tuesday in Washington.

"We've got a chance before the Christmas break to put two wins
together, which we haven't done in a really long time," Souray
said. "It was a tough win tonight and we got it, and now we can
look forward to (Tuesday), and those points are just as huge."

Pierre Dagenais and Niklas Sundstrom also scored for the
Canadiens, who have just four losses in 15 games (8-4-3).

"We're doing the little things a lot better now than we did at
the beginning of the year," Koivu said. "We're more consistent in
our defensive play and our goaltenders are playing great.

"And at the beginning we had problems with our penalty killing
and our power play, and those things are working for us right now,
and that's a big part of today's game."

Tomas Surovy scored for Pittsburgh, which was outshot 37-17. The
Penguins, last in the Eastern Conference, are winless in three
(0-2-0-1).

"For a lot of games this year, we've really given up a lot of
shots," Penguins center Brian Holzinger said. We're not happy with
the amount of shots that we gave up here tonight, obviously. When
we're playing at our best, we're playing good solid defense and
limiting those shots and trying to capitalize on the offensive
opportunities we get."

Koivu set up Dagenais' power-play goal in the first period
before giving Montreal a 2-0 lead 8:47 into the second with his
sixth goal of the season.

Souray, who assisted on Koivu's goal, got his team-leading 12th
at 14:42, just 1:26 after Surovy drew Pittsburgh within 2-1 with
his fourth at 13:16.

Penguins coach Ed Olczyk was furious after Koivu's goal gave the
Canadiens their first two-goal lead.

Though his reason wasn't readily apparent, the first-year coach
stood atop his team's bench and screamed at referees Stephane Auger
and Ian Walsh after Koivu beat goalie Sebastien Caron from the left
edge of the crease, shortly after a faceoff in Pittsburgh's zone.

"It had nothing to do with what happened on that goal at all,"
Olczyk said.

When asked if the reason was an icing call that led to the
faceoff, Olczyk replied, "I'm not going to comment on that."

The Penguins were assessed a bench minor following the second
period.

"I'm not really sure what was going on there," Holzinger said.
"Obviously starting the third period with a penalty certainly hurt
us, but Eddie's a competitive guy and he wants his team to win, and
if he doesn't agree with something, he's going to let people
know."

Dagenais got his fourth goal 15:05 in when he took Koivu's pass
and fired a shot over Caron's left shoulder into the top of the
net.

After Koivu's goal sparked Olczyk's ire, Surovy drew Pittsburgh
to within one when he completed a fine passing play. Rookie Ryan
Malone made a back pass to Holzinger in the slot. Holzinger fed
Surovy, who fired a shot into the open left side.

"We were able to really get a 2-on-0 in front of the net on
Theodore, so we'll take that any day," Holzinger said.

Souray, who leads NHL defensemen in goals, restored the
Canadiens' two-goal lead on a pass from Benoit Gratton.

Sundstrom scored into an empty net with 1:59 remaining.

Game notes
Pittsburgh fell to 2-12-1-3 on the road. ... Canadiens RW
Donald Audette was a healthy scratch for a second straight game.
... Gratton, recalled from Hamilton of the AHL on Saturday, got his
first point of the season. ... Souray never had more than three
goals in any previous season.