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Aebischer Lead Canadiens Past Senators

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MONTREAL (AP) _ David Aebischer has faced a lot of shots lately, and stopped enough of them to allow the Montreal Canadiens to keep claiming valuable points in the standings.

Aebischer made 31 saves and Christopher Higgins scored his third short-handed goal of the season, leading Montreal to a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night.

After stopping 47 shots in a 5-4 shootout loss against Toronto on Saturday night, the Swiss goalie allowed only two third-period goals against Ottawa _ including Tom Preissing's tally with 8.4 seconds remaining.

``They were two totally different games, but I thought we played well and when we play like that, I think it makes it easier for the goaltender,'' said Aebischer, whose save-percentage rose to .924.

Montreal, 2-0-1 in its last three games, has lost only twice in regulation in 11 games overall.

Higgins opened the scoring _ during one of the Senators' seven failed power-play opportunities _ 5:30 into the second with his team-high seventh goal on a sensational effort.

``I guess it's just intensity and anticipation,'' said Higgins, who leads the NHL in short-handed goals. ``Some guys have it and some guys don't, and that's why some guys are penalty-killers. I try to use my speed to get on them and let them make plays and try to force turnovers as much as possible.''

In other NHL games, it was: San Jose 2, Florida 1; the New York Islanders 5, Chicago 2; and Nashville 3, Vancouver 2.

Ottawa has scored on only 9.4 percent of its power-play chances, taking advantage six times in 64 opportunities this season.

``It's discouraging, especially when you're not scoring on the power play,'' Senators defenseman Joe Corvo said of the short-handed goal. ``It just makes it seem like it's going to be doubly hard to catch up because things aren't clicking right now on the power play.''

Alex Kovalev combined with new Russian linemates Sergei Samsonov and Alexander Perezhogin later in the second period for the Canadiens' second goal.

Jason Spezza drew Ottawa to within 2-1 with his fifth goal 6:19 into the third. Andrei Markov scored into an empty net at 18:44 of the third, and Steve Begin added his first of the season 19 seconds later, beating Ray Emery on a pass from Mike Johnson with 56.9 seconds remaining.

Emery stopped 25 shots for Ottawa, which has lost two straight after a three-game winning streak.

The Senators, who set a franchise record with an NHL-leading 312 goals last season, have been held to two goals in the two losses after outscoring opponents 21-5 during a three-game winning streak.

``We had some strong games against Toronto, we blew them out a few times, and New Jersey, but in those games we did things that smart hockey teams do _ get the puck deep, make their defensemen turn, get on top of them _ and it created a lot of offensive chances for us,'' Senators center Dean McAmmond said. ``That's not what we did tonight, and we struggled.''

Islanders 5, Blackhawks 2

At Uniondale, N.Y., Rick DiPietro turned aside 30 shots, and Alexei Yashin scored the decisive goal as New York completed a very successful extended stint at home.

Mike York, Viktor Kozlov, Mike Sillinger and Jason Blake also scored for the Islanders, who went 4-1-2 on their seven-game homestand.

Jassen Cullimore and Denis Arkhipov scored for the Blackhawks, who snapped a three-game shutout streak but lost their sixth straight game. Chicago, shut out in its previous three games, hasn't won since a 2-1 home victory over Montreal on Oct. 18. Brian Boucher stopped 19 shots but fell to 0-6.

Sharks 2, Panthers 1

Christian Ehrhoff scored a power-play goal with 35.8 seconds left to lift visiting San Jose.

Joe Thornton also scored for the Sharks, who have not lost to Florida in regulation in the last eight meetings (7-0-1). San Jose hasn't lost against the Panthers since a 4-1 defeat at Florida on Feb. 9, 2000.

Olli Jokinen scored, and Alexander Auld stopped 26 shots for the Panthers, who lost their second consecutive game at home after starting the season 4-0.

Vesa Toskala made 24 saves for the Sharks in his first game since his franchise-record 12-game winning streak was snapped Thursday night.

Predators 3, Canucks 2

At Vancouver, British Columbia, Steve Sullivan scored on a breakaway with 5:41 left to lift the Predators to the win.

Sullivan, who was robbed by Vancouver's Roberto Luongo on a breakaway earlier in the third period, was actually stopped again on his first shot, but managed to reach back and tap his own rebound past the prone goaltender.

Predators rookie Alexander Radulov scored his second goal in four games since being recalled. Ryan Suter also scored and Tomas Vokoun made 22 saves as Nashville improved to 7-0-1 since losing their first three games of the season.

Luongo finished with 21 stops, and Mattias Ohlund and Markus Naslund scored for Vancouver, which lost for the just the second time in six games.
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