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Brian Gionta's shootout goal lifts Habs over reeling Boston Bruins, 3-2

Boston Bruins left wing Daniel Paille (20) leaps as Montreal Canadiens goalie Jaroslav Halak, of Slovakia, raises his glove toward the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2010. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Charles Krupa)

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Boston Bruins left wing Daniel Paille (20) leaps as Montreal Canadiens goalie Jaroslav Halak, of Slovakia, raises his glove toward the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2010. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Charles Krupa)

BOSTON - If Jaroslav Halak had his way, he wouldn't have to face 40 shots. But when it happens, the Montreal goalie is tough to beat.

Halak is 7-0 in games he's faced 40 shots or more this season, making 45 saves and three more in the shootout Thursday night to carry the Canadiens to a 3-2 victory over the free-falling Bruins, losers of nine straight.

"As long as we win, it doesn't matter how many shots they have and we have," Halak said. "It would be nice to get more shots on net, but we have to find our game."

Brian Gionta found the net in the third round of the shootout, beating Tuukka with a backhander up high, before Halak stopped Marc Savard to end the game.

"We gave up a lot of big opportunities, but Halak came up big," Gionta said.

The Bruins, 0-7-2 during the second-longest losing streak in club history, and 1-9-3 in their last 13 games, have also lost eight straight at home (0-6-2), also the second-longest stretch in team history.

Boston blew a 2-0 lead when the Canadiens got goals from former Bruin Glen Metropolit and Roman Hamrlik 39 seconds apart late in the second period.

Boston then wasted two power-play chances in the third period and a 4-on-3 in overtime before losing in the shootout for the second time in the first three games of a four-game homestand.

"We wound up in a shootout and we shouldn't have gotten there," Boston coach Claude Julien said.

The Bruins have 89 shots in the last two games and have one point to show for it.

"It's frustrating, to say the least," Julien said. "To be honest with you, I don't think I've ever seen that as a coach or experienced that as a player."

Rask fell to 0-4-1 in his last five starts, since a 4-0 shutout of Atlanta Dec. 30.

Boston has scored 14 goals during the nine-game streak, 11 in the last eight.

Montreal beat the rival Bruins for the third time in three tries this season.

Mark Recchi and Blake Wheeler gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead, but Metropolit, on the power play, and Hamrlik tied it.

The two-goal lead was the first for the Bruins in eight games, since they took a 2-0 lead in Los Angeles on Jan. 16. They eventually lost that game in a shootout, starting the losing streak.

Recchi tipped home Dennis Wideman's slapper at 15:48 of the first period. After the goal, Halak came up with several big saves, one on Michael Ryder, as the Bruins continued to dominate.

The Bruins made it 2-0 when David Krejci carried the puck down the right side and his centring pass hit Halak's pad and went right to Wheeler, who scored his first goal in eight games and 13th of the season.

The Canadiens, looking like a beaten team, were quiet before striking late in the period. Boston's Matt Hunwick was off for hooking when Metropolit slid home a rebound for his first goal in 19 games. Shortly after, Hamrlik let a wrist shot go from inside the left point and Rask, screened on the play, saw the puck fly over his glove for Hamrlik's first goal in his last 20 games.

Scott Gomez assisted on both goals.

The Bruins continued to have the better of the offensive play in the third period, including three chances by Marco Sturm, but also wasted the two power plays. They had a 42-21 shots advantage heading into overtime and had five more shots in the extra 5 minutes.

NOTES: The game marked the 702nd regular-season game between the rivals, who meet again Sunday in Montreal. ... Krejci and Tomas Plekanec of the Canadiens will be teammates on the Czech Republic team and Bruins Zdeno Chara and Miroslav Satan will team up with Halak for Slovakia at the Olympics.

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