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Panthers fall to Canadiens 4-0
Posted: Saturday February 13, 1999 11:54 PM
MONTREAL (AP) -- The Montreal Canadiens played like a team desperately making a run for the playoffs, and their efforts were rewarded.
Saku Koivu scored two power-play goals and Jeff Hackett needed to make just 16 saves for his third shutout of the season as the Canadiens beat the Florida Panthers 4-0.
"Tonight a lot of guys felt that we had to show our pride and that we are a good team," said Koivu, whose team moved within three points of the Panthers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"I think we bounced back well. For me, I really needed those two goals. We've all been having a tough time offensively and I'll take those two any time."
Patrice Brisebois and Jason Dawe also scored for Canadiens, who stopped a two-game losing streak. Shayne Corson added two assists.
"Tonight we finally rose to the occasion," Corson said. "We've been saying that a lot lately. I think it was the biggest game of the year for us. If we lose, they're seven ahead of us with games in hand. Now we're only three points back and the picture looks a lot brighter."
The Panthers, who were playing their fourth straight game without injured forward Pavel Bure, were outshot 35-16.
"We played fine in the first," Florida coach Terry Murray said. "We were cautious. Going in, both teams needed to make the playoffs. After they scored, the game got away from us and we lost discipline. But Montreal was on their game."
Mark Recchi notched his 500th career assist on Koivu's first goal, which gave the Canadiens a 2-0 lead in the second period.
Hackett notched his 100th career win after missing the last two games with a hip injury.
"We totally outplayed them and I never got one rebound shot the entire night," Hackett said. "You have to give our defense a lot of credit. The guys were fabulous. I've never seen us play better."
Hackett was rarely tested in the first two periods, but made two key saves to preserve the shutout.
Early in the first, Hackett stopped Jaroslav Spacek's slap shot from just inside the blue line. Then midway through the second, Hackett foiled Johan Garpenlov from just outside the crease.
Hackett was also lucky. With the Panthers on a second-period power play, Viktor Kozlov rang one off the crossbar with a rising slap shot from the blue line.
"It's still a long way to go," Koivu said of his team's struggle to reach the playoffs. "We still have 26 games to go and there are plenty of games to win. But if we play like we played tonight, I think we'll make it."
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