<
>

Canadiens score early, often for 5-3 win

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's been a difficult season for the Montreal Canadiens, who have found goals and victories hard to come by --
unless they're playing the Washington Capitals.

Sheldon Souray had two goals, and Pierre Dagenais and Michael Ryder scored 61 seconds apart in the first period to lead the
Canadiens past Washington 5-3 Friday night.

Backup goaltender Mathieu Garon had 31 saves for the last place
Canadiens, who took command by connecting on three of their first
nine shots against Olaf Kolzig.

Montreal matched its season high in goals. Its other five-goal
game was a 5-1 win over the Capitals on Oct. 14.

"We've been struggling and we haven't been scoring goals,"
said Jan Bulis, who scored the Canadiens' first goal. "I can't
tell you when the last time we scored five goals was, but it was a
while ago."

Montreal led 3-1 after the first period and 4-1 early in the
second.

"It was one those nights when we again got down too much,"
Capitals right wing Jaromir Jagr said. "Three goals, two goals,
you cannot do that in this league. You may have a chance to come
back once in a while, but not all the time."

Jagr, who missed the final two periods of Tuesday's game with a
groin injury, returned to register an assist and extend his point
streak to 10 games.

"I didn't feel good at all," he said. "I couldn't skate, but
I wanted to play."

Robert Lang extended his scoring streak to 14 games with a
first-period goal, but Washington lost its third straight at home.
The Capitals have an NHL-worst 14 points in 23 games.

"Montreal is struggling, just like we are," Washington coach
Bruce Cassidy said. "We should have been ready to play. I'm not
saying we weren't, but we got behind again."

Montreal went up 2-1 when Dagenais, playing in his second game
since being called up from the minors, scored at 17:56 of the first
period.

Washington defenseman Brendan Witt received a boarding penalty
10 seconds later, and Ryder subsequently scored on a wrist shot
from the left circle.

Souray, with an assist from Dagenais, made it 4-1 at 7:30 of the
second period.

That was enough offense for Garon, who improved to 2-2-1 as the
backup to Jose Theodore. He came in with a 1.97 goals-against
average, but the Canadiens scored only five goals in his first four
games.

"It makes it a lot easier when you get a couple of goals early
in the game," he said.

Later in the second period, Washington rookie Alexander Semin
ended a flurry in front of the Montreal net with his third goal.

Souray's eighth of the season put the Canadiens up 5-2 at 1:42
of the third period. His other two-goal game came Nov. 4 against
Edmonton.

Witt ended a 23-game goal drought with his first of the season
with 14:55 remaining. Sergei Gonchar earned his 250th career assist
on the play.

Game notes
Lang played in his 600th NHL game, and teammate Kip Miller
played in his 400th. ... Montreal scratched D Stephane Quintal, who
was minus-6 in his last three games. ... The Capitals play their
next five games on the road.