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Canadiens Shut Down Blues

Dainius Zubrus made a good start and Jeff Hackett made all the stops for the Montreal Canadiens.

Zubrus scored a goal in his first appearance in a Montreal uniform and Hackett made 41 saves to lead the Canadiens to a 3-0 victory over the struggling St. Louis Blues.

Rookie Brent Johnson allowed three goals on 25 shots as St. Louis lost for the fourth time in a row.

"Our goalie was better than their goalie," said Montreal coach Alain Vigneault. "We needed Hackett to play well, which he did. Their goaltender was a little shaky and we got the lead. It's tough to come back in this league when the other team gets the lead."

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  • The Blues allowed a 4-2 third period advantage to disappear in Tuesday night's 7-4 loss to Calgary, which prompted Johnson's recall from Worcester of the AHL. He was not told until noon Thursday and did not get in until less than three hours before game time.

    "I wasn't tired, just a little hungry," said Johnson, who played the night before. "I got in about 4:30, but my coach there (in Worcester) had told me I had a good chance of playing, so I tried to do what I normally do before playing."

    Johnson is one of five goalies to play for the Blues this season. Hackett, who recorded his fourth shutout of the season and 18th of his career, knows what the Blues are going through.

    "It's never easy," he said. "There's moments in the year all the time that are very tough. I'm confident they'll bounce back."

    Hackett did that himself after allowing five goals in a 5-2 loss to Florida on Monday. In the game before that, he was relieved and replaced by Frederic Chabot in a 6-1 loss to Tampa Bay.

    "I wasn't up to the top of my game the last two games," Hackett said. "I felt I owed the team a better performance."

    Zubrus was playing in his first game for the Canadiens after being acquired from Philadelphia in the Mrk Recchi deal. Scott Lachance and Sergei Zholtok had the other goals and Saku Koivu had two assists to extend his scoring streak to six games.

    St. Louis has won just two of its last 12 games at the Kiel Center.

    "Mentally, we're at an all-time low," said Blues center Craig Conroy. "It's disappointing, more than anything. We have to start winning, especially at home."

    The Blues outshot Montreal 17-10 in the first period, but found themselves in a 2-0 hole.

    Zubrus opened the scoring at 3:20 when he took the puck to Johnson's right, skated in front and guided the puck past Johnson with one hand while being checked by Pierre Turgeon.

    Zholtok made it 2-0 at 10:05 of the first period with another solid individual effort. He broke in on left wing and took a slap shot from the top of the left circle. Johnson made the save, but Zholtok was able to corral the rebound in the right circle and fire a wrist shot in for his sixth goal.

    Johnson then gave the Canadiens a gift when he misplayed a bouncing shot from Lachance at 7:08 of the second period. Lachance's shot from the right circle slipped under the glove of Johnson, who failed to cover the short side, for his second goal.

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