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Lang scores twice as Canadiens defeat Flames

The Canadian Press

12/10/2008 1:28:15 AM

MONTREAL - Veterans Robert Lang and Alex Kovalev are starting to click with the Montreal Canadiens, much like they did years ago when they were linemates in Pittsburgh.

Lang had two goals and an assist and Kovalev had two assists as the Montreal Canadiens overcame injuries to Christopher Higgins and Mathieu Dandenault to post a 4-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night.

Lang, acquired from Chicago just before training camp for a second round draft pick, has four goals and Kovalev has five assists in their last four games.

"It was a good, fun game," said Lang, whose ninth and 10th goals gave him the team lead. "Everybody played well.

"You need a game like that once in a while."

Rookie Matt D'Agostini scored his fourth goal in as many games and Andrei Markov also scored for Montreal (16-6-5), now 4-0-1 on a seven-game homestand. The Canadiens have lost only once in regulation time in their last 10 games.

Dustin Boyd returned from a shoulder injury to score for Calgary (16-11-1), which is now 2-1-0 on a four-game road trip that winds up in Detroit on Wednesday night. The Flames ended a four-game road winning streak.

Higgins left 15 minutes into the opening period with an "upper body" injury, likely a wrist, after a hit into the boards and Dandenault went out 14:58 into the second frame with his left arm, which was broken, dangling after a hit in a corner by Boyd.

Coach Guy Carbonneau said Higgins would have an MRI exam on Wednesday to see if his injury is serious, while Dandenault, who has played well since being switched back from forward to defence last week, is gone indefinitely.

It was the Flames' first game in Montreal since a 5-4 loss on Oct. 17, 2006 and they came out firing, only to be shut down on 14 shots in the opening period by Jaroslav Halak, who made his first start in five games.

"We were not good enough and that's the bottom line," said Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf. "They beat us in every aspect of the game - not by a lot, but they had that little bit more."

Lang scored 3:41 into the game as he broke down the left side and shovelled the puck at the net, only to see the rebound go off defenceman Mark Giordano and into the net.

D'Agostini, who has four goals in five games since he was called up from AHL Hamilton, blocked Adam Pardy's shot at the Montreal blue-line, raced in on a breakaway and deked Miikka Kiprusoff 4:17 into the second frame.

Flames captain Jarome Iginla sent a perfect cross-ice pass on the rush onto Boyd's stick for his seventh of the season at 6:32.

Ex-Flame Alex Tanguay fed Lang in front to wheel and slip the puck inside the post at 15:18. Tanguay, the third man on the Lang-Kovalev combination for this game, also had two assists.

There has been speculation over Lang's future in Montreal because talk of signing former Toronto captain Mats Sundin doesn't go away. Montreal acquired Lang when it failed to ink the free agent Sundin during the summer.

"It's up to what management says, but I'm happy here," said Lang.

Kovalev's goal-less streak stretched to 17 games - two short of his career worst slump - but he has played with some intensity of late and even looked to have tipped in Montreal's final goal.

After two Flames power plays failed to produce a goal in the third, Lang set up Markov for a blast from the top of the left circle for a three-goal lead. Kovalev was at the net with his stick in the crease.

"It was going too fast, I couldn't see it," said Kovalev.

Lang and Kovalev played together on a powerful Pittsburgh team in the late 1990s, but Carbonneau was reluctant at the start of the season to break up his top line from last season of Kovalev, Andrei Kostitsyn and Tomas Plekanec.

He made them a duo for a 5-4 win over Atlanta last week and it worked.

It was a big game for Halak, the back-up to Carey Price who ended a three-game losing run and posted his first win since a 3-1 decision over Florida on Oct. 20.

"It's a big relief," he said. "When you don't play a lot, you want to get into the game early, and there were a lot of shots at the beginning of the game. That was good for me."

There was a melee near the end of the game after a knee-to-knee collision between Markov and Phaneuf. Markov got two minutes for tripping, which was not enough in the eyes of Flames coach Mike Keenan. Phaneuf was not hurt.

Notes - Sergei Kostitsyn, who sat out three games for taking undisciplined penalties, was back in the Montreal lineup. Georges Laraque sat out. Guillaume Latendresse and Ryan O'Byrne were also healthy scratches, but O'Byrne is sure to return Thursday against Tampa Bay after the Dandenault injury. . . Wayne Primeau and Brandon Prust sat out for Calgary. . . Tanguay played against the Flames for the first time since they traded him to Montreal last summer. . .  David Moss's four-game goal streak ended. . . Kiprusoff is 0-3-0 in his career in Montreal.