MONTREAL (AP) -The Atlanta Thrashers have good reason to smile on their longest road trip of the season.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored the decisive goal in the shootout to give Atlanta a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night. The Thrashers have consecutive victories for the first time this season and improved to 3-2 on their seven-game trip.
"It's always great when you're winning," Kovalchuk said. "(Wednesday), it's a new game. We're going to Ottawa and it's a long marathon of a trip. We need to stick together and play for each other, that's the most important thing."
Kovalchuk put a shot past Montreal rookie Carey Price on Atlanta's third attempt, and Thrashers goalie Johan Hedberg forced Alex Kovalev to shoot off the post after Thrashers rookie Bryan Little and Canadiens captain Saku Koivu both scored in the second round.
Chris Higgins scored Montreal's second power-play goal of the game with 1:58 remaining in regulation to tie it at 2.
Todd White took Atlanta's third straight penalty at 17:50 when he was sent off for hooking. The Canadiens quickly took advantage as Koivu put a centering pass from the right corner to Higgins, who beat goalie Johan Hedberg for his fourth goal.
Kovalev, who assisted on the goal, also scored in the second.
"We stole a point," Higgins said. "We didn't deserve it at all. It was a pretty poor effort. I mean, we played decently in the third but still our power play wasn't working and the rest of our game, the first two periods, was pretty awful."
The first three goals were all scored unassisted, including both tallied by Atlanta. Eric Perrin and Vyacheslav Kozlov scored 57 seconds apart late in the second period to give the Thrashers a 2-1 lead.
Hedberg stopped 31 shots for Atlanta (4-8).
The Thrashers improved to 4-2 under GM Don Waddell, who took over behind the bench on an interim basis after he fired coach Bob Hartley following an 0-6 start.
"I think the biggest difference right now is we're getting a good effort from everyone," Waddell said. "Kozlov wasn't scoring, Kovy wasn't scoring the way he's scoring right now, and it's our big guys who are coming through for us. Marian Hossa's still a little bit snakebitten. He had some great chances again. The last two games we can't find the back of the net, but our veterans are doing a great job for us."
Kovalev also scored unassisted for Montreal, which ended a season-high, four-game winning streak.
Price made 31 saves in his Bell Centre debut. Price, who won for the second time in three road starts in Saturday's 4-3 shootout victory at Pittsburgh, made consecutive starts for the first time.
Kovalev opened the scoring with his sixth goal of the season on a power play 8:10 into the second. He held the puck on the right side as Thrashers defenseman Ken Klee kept his distance before putting a shot over Hedberg's right arm into the left side of the net.
Perrin tied it at 16:16 with his second of the season.
The Montreal native pumped his arms in the air after he put a shot past Price from the edge of the crease when Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov inadvertently swatted the puck out front.
Kozlov took advantage of a dreadful giveaway by Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges moments later to give Atlanta a sudden lead.
Gorges blindly backhanded a centering pass from the left side of his own zone, and Kozlov drove in to pick up the puck and beat Price for his fifth goal. That put the Thrashers ahead 2-1.
"It's a 10-, 15-foot D-to-D pass and I just whiffed on it," said Gorges, who played 10:56 through the first two periods and made two short shifts the rest of the way to finish at 12:10.
Notes: Gorges, who played his third game of the season, dressed for consecutive contests for the first time. He played in place of D Francis Bouillon, who injured his shoulder Saturday at Pittsburgh. ... RW Andrei Kostitsyn was Montreal's only healthy scratch.
|PPG - Alex Kovalev (6) ASST: NONE|
1 - 0 MTL
|Eric Perrin (2) ASST: NONE|
1 - 1 Tie
|Vyacheslav Kozlov (5) ASST: NONE|
2 - 1 ATL
|PPG - Chris Higgins (4) ASST: Saku Koivu (9), Alex Kovalev (4)|
2 - 2 Tie
|1||V. Kozlov||T. Plekanec|
|2||B. Little||S. Koivu|
|3||I. Kovalchuk||A. Kovalev|
|Power Play %||17.8%||16.5%|
|% on Road||18.0%||10.7%|
|% at Home||17.7%||22.1%|
|Toby Enstrom Interference against Michael Ryder|
|Bryan Smolinski Boarding against Ilya Kovalchuk|
|Andrei Markov Hooking against Jim Slater|
|Michael Ryder Hi-sticking against Toby Enstrom|
|Niclas Havelid Interference against Chris Higgins|
|Patrice Brisebois Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Ken Klee Holding against Roman Hamrlik|
|Pascal Dupuis Holding against Patrice Brisebois|
|Mark Streit Tripping against Darren Haydar|
|Eric Perrin Slashing against Andrei Markov|
|Ken Klee Hi-sticking against Alex Kovalev|
|Todd White Hooking against Alex Kovalev|