MONTREAL (AP) _ The Atlanta Thrashers know they can count on Ilya Kovalchuk to get their offense going.
Kovalchuk scored his 31st goal to tie the game during a five-on-three advantage midway through the first and made a fine pass to set up Kaberle's goal early in the second.
``It's nothing surprising to us because that's the kind of plays that he's been giving us since the start of the year,'' Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said. ``(Kovalchuk) is like an offensive machine for us. He's very creative and he's got great vision _ just his wrist shot on that five-on-three was something. He picked that corner. He knew where it was going.''
Pasi Nurminen made 29 saves for Atlanta, which won for the second time in three games following a 10-game winless streak. The Thrashers, who lost 7-2 Monday in Buffalo, improved to 2-3 on their season-high seven-game road trip.
``We had a bad time over the last month because we didn't play well,'' Kovalchuk said. ``But we beat Vancouver and we won tonight so we'll be back on track. There are still 21 games left and you never know, it's the NHL and we're trying to do our best.''
Montreal's Jan Bulis opened the scoring but the Canadiens allowed four straight goals to extend their losing streak to a season-high four games.
``We looked like a team that just started the season,'' Canadiens coach Claude Julien said.
Jose Theodore stopped 21 of 25 shots and made a huge blunder on a clearing attempt that led directly to Stefan scoring a power-play goal into an unguarded net.
Trailing 2-1 after Kaberle scored 3:06 into the second, Theodore tried to play a puck behind his net while Patrice Brisebois was in the penalty box for interference, but he flipped his backhand pass off the back of the mesh.
Rattled, the Canadiens goalie swatted the puck in front of the net to Stefan, who promptly scored his eighth of the season at 12:30 to put the Thrashers up 3-1. Theodore raised his arms in disbelief.
``Yeah, I wanted to flip it over,'' Theodore said. ``Nine times out of 10 I'm going to do it, but when things aren't going too well you should keep it simple. It was bad judgment on my part, that's it.''
Heatley scored his third of the season 7:41 into the third to increase the lead to three.
Montreal, which has failed to register a point since the All-Star break, got off to a good start when captain Saku Koivu made a whirling pass to set up Bulis, who scored into a wide open right side from the slot 6:47 in for his 13th of the season.
Kovalchuk tied it with a power-play goal at 8:55 when he picked the lower right side of the net with a wrist shot from the point.
The Canadiens failed to score despite having a five-on-three advantage for a full two minutes after Nurminen was given a roughing minor at 12:20 while a delayed penalty had already been called on left wing Jeff Cowan.
Montreal, which went 0-for-4 on the power play in the first, got another power-play opportunity before the penalties expired when defenseman Andy Sutton was sent off for slashing at 14:03.
``Our penalty killing was outstanding tonight,'' Kovalchuk said.
Kaberle gave the Thrashers a 2-1 lead 3:06 into the second when he beat Theodore with a backhander after Kovalchuk found him with a pass as he drove to the net.
|Jan Bulis (13) ASST: Saku Koivu (27), Richard Zednik (15)|
1 - 0 MTL
|PPG - Ilya Kovalchuk (31) ASST: Randy Robitaille (16), Marc Savard (28)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Frantisek Kaberle (3) ASST: Ilya Kovalchuk (33), Garnet Exelby (8)|
2 - 1 ATL
|PPG - Patrik Stefan (8) ASST: NONE|
3 - 1 ATL
|Dany Heatley (3) ASST: Randy Robitaille (17), Shawn McEachern (29)|
4 - 1 ATL
|Steve Begin Hooking - Obstruction|
|Stephane Quintal Holding against Randy Robitaille|
|Jeff Cowan Holding against Joseph Juneau|
|Pasi Nurminen Roughing against Andreas Dackell|
|Andy Sutton Slashing against Jan Bulis|
|Shawn McEachern Interference against Patrice Brisebois|
|Patrice Brisebois Interference against Serge Aubin|
|Mike Komisarek Cross checking against Jean-Pierre Vigier|
|Francis Bouillon Hooking against Shawn McEachern|