The Montreal Canadiens snapped a season-high losing streak by beating one of the Eastern Conference's worst teams. They'll try to maintain their playoff position against another club near the bottom of the standings.
When the Canadiens host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night, they will try to record consecutive wins for the second time this month and for the first time under their new coach.
Montreal ended a five-game losing streak with Tuesday night's 6-3 victory over visiting Atlanta, and general manager Bob Gainey earned his second win since relieving Guy Carbonneau of coaching duties March 9.
The Canadiens (37-27-9) enter Thursday's play in eighth place - two points ahead of Florida - and searching for back-to-back wins for the first time since a 4-3 overtime victory March 10 over visiting Edmonton in Gainey's coaching debut.
"These two points really feel good," center Saku Koivu said. "Hopefully they give us the confidence, that little boost that we were looking for the upcoming games. Obviously it feels great, but there's a lot of work ahead of us."
Gainey's decision to put Koivu, Alex Tanguay and Alex Kovalev on the same line paid off as they combined for five goals and six assists against the Thrashers. Tanguay tied a career high with five points on two goals and three assists.
The move also renewed the team's power play, which was 3-for-37 in its previous nine games. Tanguay and Kovalev broke a 2-all tie by scoring three times with a man advantage in the second period.
"Koivu's line certainly performed in the role that they were put into," said Gainey, who is 2-3-2 in his latest coaching tenure. "They played like they wanted to play together and they were working to play with each other, good passing plays for shots, for scoring chances and for goals."
Despite sitting last in the Southeast Division - two points behind Atlanta, the Lightning have won two of three meetings with the Canadiens this season, including a 3-1 victory Dec. 11 at the Bell Centre. The teams split two games in Tampa with Montreal taking a 2-1 shootout win Dec. 30 but falling 5-3 on Jan. 27.
The Canadiens are 1-3-0 in their last four against the Lightning but 3-1-1 in the last five at the Bell Centre. Tampa Bay, however, has won three of its last four away from home and is looking for three consecutive road victories for the first time since six straight wins from Jan. 8-Feb. 7, 2008.
On Martin St. Louis' goal, Tampa Bay (24-33-16) salvaged a four-game homestand with Tuesday night's 2-1 overtime victory over Columbus, snapping an 0-1-2 skid.
"Even if (St. Louis is) having a tough night, he's always keeps working hard and always tries to do the right thing," Lightning interim coach Rick Tocchet said. "His perseverance gets the game winner for us."
The veteran winger has six goals and eight assists during a nine-game point streak. With a pair of assists, top draft pick Steven Stamkos extended his career-best streak to six games with four goals and four assists in that stretch.
St. Louis has eight points in his last five games against Montreal, while Stamkos had his only career point with an assist on Jan. 27.
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