The Montreal Canadiens spent some quality phone time with the latest of their walking wounded, Brian Savage.
The team's leading goal-scorer gave his teammates enough encouragement to win without him something they'll have to do for the next 6-8 weeks. Monday night's 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Mighty Ducks was the first step in that direction.
"Injuries are things we can't really control," defenseman Karl Dykhuis said. "The only thing we can control is playing a solid game, giving a good effort and playing a good system. It's tough to win in this league, but there's a lot of parity. So you have a chance to win every night."
The Canadiens expect Savage to fly back to Montreal in a few days with trainer Gaetan Lefebvre.
"To finish that game in L.A. was a little bit tough," center Scott Thornton said. "But since then we've had a couple of days to talk to Brian, and we're aware that he's doing better. His spirits were high. He talked to pretty much every guy on the team, wished us luck and told us to go out and win a hockey game."
Trevor Linden scored the go-ahead goal with 12:09 remaining and Martin Rucinsky connected on a power play in the final seconds of the first period. Jose Theodore made 30 saves for the Canadiens, who hve won four of six following a nine-game winless streak.
Montreal, last in the Northeast Division at 7-14-1, have injuries to seven regulars, including captain Saku Koivu.
"I think the key to our success the past six games has been not to worry about the long run," Thornton said. "We don't know when we're going to start to get bodies back, so we're all playing for the moment and taking it one game at a time. It's an old cliche, but that's the way we're doing it right now."
Ted Donato scored for the Mighty Ducks, who were held to fewer than three goals for the 12th time this season despite the return of Teemu Selanne from a strained groin that put him out for three games.
"I think Teemu had really good jump early on," linemate Paul Kariya said. "But, like anyone else, when you're off for that long, you're not going to have the same legs as the game goes on."
Selanne had six shots on goal through the first two periods and Kariya had four. But neither All-Star forced Theodore to make a save in the third period, when the Ducks outshot Montreal 7-2.
"As soon as they made it 2-1, they had four or five guys back and they didn't even try to score," Kariya said. "We were a little bit off. We had a lot of chances to score on the power play and 5-on-5, but they played a great road game."
The Canadiens regained their lead when Shayne Corson shrugged off a check by Pavel Trnka to the right of the net and fed the puck in front to Linden, who snapped his sixth goal through the legs of defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky and goaltender Guy Hebert.
The Canadiens, who ended their long winless streak with a 2-1 victory over the Ducks at the Molson Centre on Nov. 11, opened the scoring during a two-man advantage with 15 seconds left in the first period.
Eric Weinrich threw the puck from the left point to the base of the right circle, where Rucinsky beat Hebert over the shoulder. Rucinsky's eighth goal came after Pavel Trnka went off for holding Thornton, and Pascal Trepanier was penalized for boarding Corson 17 seconds later.
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