Canadiens Dazed And Confused

First lady Laura Bush, center, shakes hands with Sayed Hamed Gailani First Deputy Speaker, Meshrano Jirga, Afghanistan's upper house of their National Assembly on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2006, prior to President Bush's State of the Union address.
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Big forwards are supposed to drive to the net and Chicago's Eric Daze made that basic play pay off Monday night against Montreal.

Daze swept in

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  • and backhanded the rebound of linemate Alexei Zhamnov's long shot into an open side with 3:49 left in the third period to lift the Blackhawks to a 2-1 victory over the Canadiens.

    "It wasn't really a two-on-one, but the defense went after Alex and I was going hard to the net," Daze said. "I used my six-foot-five reach right there to score."

    "It was just a solid effort on his part," said Chicago coach Dirk Graham, whose team improved to 3-2 and ended a six-game losing run in Montreal that stretched back to an 8-3 Blackhawks win on Feb. 6, 1991.

    Rookie Daniel clearly scored his first NHL goal at 5:01 of the first period for Chicago, while Vincent Damphousse tied the game with a power-play goal for Montreal at 3:45 of the third.

    "Now that I look at the puck, it does seem special," said Cleary, 19, who banged in a pass from Zhamnov from the edge of the crease for his first goal in 11 NHL games, including six last season.

    "This is an Original Six team and some pretty cool players have come out of here. They've won a lot of Stanley Cups (24). A least now I can say I scored one here in this building, against this team."

    Montreal outshot Chicago 27-20, but Blackhawks goaltender Mark Fitzpatrick, playing in his first game since being acquired in an off-season trade from Tampa ay, used his 6-foot-2 frame to stop all but one of the shots.

    Jose Theodore also made his first start of the season for Montreal (2-2-1), which lost for the second time in three nights at home.

    "I challenged Zhamonov on the first shot and it hit my stick," Theodore said of the game-winner. "I didn't know where the puck was and I was a second late on the rebound."

    Damphousse deflected Vladimir Malakhov's point shot from the slot for his fourth goal of the season.

    Montreal was missing six regulars. Defensemen Patrice Brisebois (back) and Dave Manson (hip) and forward Shayne Corson (rib) are injured, while Turner Stevenson was serving the first game of a two-game suspension.

    But forwards Martin Rucinsky and Brian Savage are missing only because they remain unsigned free agents.

    "It's not right to put pressure on (general manager) Rejean Houle," Damphousse said of his unsigned linemates. "He's doing what he has to do.

    "All we can do is play hard and concentrate on what we have to do. We knew it would be like this at the beginning of the year."

    Chicago went into the game 1-7-1 in its previous nine meetings against the Canadiens.

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