Rangers 2, Canadiens 1

Tuesday, October 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MONTREAL (AP) _ Don't let the young face fool you. Dan Blackburn looks like a veteran in goal.

The Rangers' rookie goalie made 22 saves to earn his first NHL victory as New York beat Montreal 2-1 Monday night and snapped the Canadiens' season-opening five-game unbeaten streak.

``He looks 18, but he plays a little older than that,'' forward Theo Fleury said of the teen-age netminder. ``He's very mature for his age.''

Fleury scored his first goal of the season to tie it at 1 in the first period of the NHL's only game Monday. Radek Dvorak scored the tiebreaking goal in the second as New York evened its record to 2-2-1.

``I thought we played really strong,'' Fleury said. ``We gave up an early goal but continued to do the things that we did the game before - get the puck in deep, forecheck, and try to create opportunities that way.''

But it was the 18-year-old Blackburn's strong performance that stood out.

``He's so calm and collected in there,'' Fleury said. ``I don't know what particular style he has, but he stops the puck, and that's all that matters. It was great to see him get his first win, especially here.''

Making his second career start, Blackburn made the most of his opportunity against the Canadiens.

``I grew up kind of dreaming I was going to play for the Montreal Canadiens, or play against them,'' Blackburn said. ``To get my first win in the Molson Centre against them is a big thrill. This was special because it was in Montreal. I was born here and I had a lot of friends and family at the game.''

Blackburn improved over his NHL debut when he allowed five goals last week in a loss to Washington.

``It's really exciting,'' said Blackburn, the No. 10 pick in this year's draft. ``It took about 10 minutes after I got off the ice until the smile went off my face.''

Rangers captain Mark Messier did not play because of a rib injury sustained against Ottawa on Saturday. Messier will be examined by team physicians Tuesday.

Montreal's Sheldon Souray opened the scoring with a power-play goal 10:30 into the game. His low slap shot from the point beat Blackburn to his left, just inside the right post.

Brian Savage, who assisted on the goal, was impressed with the young goalie.

``You've got to give him credit,'' Savage said. ``He played very well and he stood in there against us.''

Fleury scored 16:08 into the first as he took Michael York's pass from behind the net at the left edge of the Montreal crease and banked a shot off goalie Jose Theodore's skate.

Dvorak snapped the tie early in the second, just six seconds after the Canadiens completed their third of six successful penalty kills. As Jan Bulis left the penalty box, Dvorak scored 4:57 into the period.

Montreal, which slipped to 4-1-1, has not allowed a power-play goal in 32 short-handed situations this season.

``I would have rather allowed the only goal tonight short-handed, but managed to tie it 1-1,'' Canadiens center Joe Juneau said.

Theodore made 27 saves.