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Habs Burn Devils In OT


Benoit Brunet and the Montreal Canadiens had some nervous moments before they could celebrate their overtime victory over the New Jersey Devils.

Brunet scored on a power play 58 seconds into overtime as the Canadiens extended their season-high winning streak to seven games with a 3-2 victory over New Jersey on Thursday night.

Brunet batted the puck out of the air past goalie Martin Brodeur. The goal was reviewed to see if the Canadiens forward made contact with the puck above the level of the crossbar.

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  • "When it's long like that sometimes you think that they're going to refuse it because it's close, but that wasn't the case," Brunet said. "I thought it was good.

    "It's easy to say now but I waited - I don't know if I waited long enough and I think my stick was lower than the crossbar when I made contact, but you're never sure in the thick of the action like that."

    The Canadiens, 13-4-2 since Jan. 11, moved within two points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. New Jersey, tied for the overall NHL lead, has lost four straight - the Devils' longest losing streak of the season.

    "I didn't really see it," Brodeur said of the deciding goal. "I guess it was really, really close and when you're in a different building, the close calls are always going to go to the home team.

    "But it was fairly close and we put ourselves into a jam, having to kill a penalty in overtime."

    Montreal captain Saku Koivu set up the winner with a shot that caromed off Brodeur's stick into the air as the Canadiens exerted pressure following a penalty to Randy McKay with nine seconds left in the third period.

    "Koivu made a spin-o-rama, I went down, it hit the paddle of my stick and went straight up," Brodeur said. "The next thing you know I heard the puck hit a stick and it went right by me."

    Montreal's Jeff Hackett made 21 saves for his sixth straight victory. The Canadiens have allowed just five goals in their last six games.

    Montreal's Sergei Zholtok scored his 20th goal of the season midway through the third period to tie it at 2. Zholtok, who also assisted on Martin Rucinsky's power-play goal late in the second period, beat Brodeur from the slot.

    "It was a solid, solid effort," Zholtok said. "It was a really emotional game for us. The fans were on our side and helped us create the momentum to tie it and win it in OT.

    "I'm really proud about the character the team is showing in coming back. That's a huge two points."

    Petr Sykora gave New Jersey a 2-1 lead on a power play 6:51 into the third with his 18th of the season.

    Sergei Nemchinov opened the scoring for New Jersey at 4:29 of the second with his eighth goal. Rucinsky tied it with his 19th on a goal-mouth scramble with 32 seconds left in the second period.

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