ATLANTA - Thanks in large part to Yann Danis recording a shutout in his first-ever NHL game, the Canadiens matched a team record with their fourth straight road win to start the season, following a 2-0 victory over the Thrashers on Wednesday night in Atlanta.
Danis stopped all 32 shots he faced to become the first Canadiens netminder to register a shutout in his NHL debut since Wayne Thomas slammed the door on the Canucks in a 3-0 victory in Vancouver on Jan. 14, 1973. The last NHL goalie to do so was Michael Leighton of the Blackhawks who played all 65 minutes in a 0-0 draw versus the Coyotes in Chicago on Jan. 8, 2003.
Jan Bulis opened the scoring with his second of the season only three minutes into the game as he banked the puck in off the Thrashers' Bobby Holik and behind goalie Mike Dunham on a play set up by Niklas Sundstrom, who was playing in his 700th career game. Dunham left the game with a groin injury just under seven minutes into the game and was replaced by rookie Michael Garnett.
The score remained that way until captain Saku Koivu also notched his second goal of the campaign just over six minutes into the third period with a little help from Alexander Perezhogin and Francis Bouillon, who picked up his first point of 2005-06.
A 24-year-old native of Lafontaine, Que., Danis earned the job as Jose Theodore's understudy following would-be back-up Cristobal Huet's ongoing recovery from a serious knee injury. Danis, who was never drafted, was signed by Montreal as a free-agent in March of 2004 following a stellar season at Brown University.
He held his own during this year's training camp, posting a 3-1 record and 3.11 GAA in his five preseason appearances. Danis is also coming off a solid 2004-05 campaign with the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs where he compiled a 28-17-6 record, including five shutouts along with a 2.34 GAA and .924 save percentage.
The Canadiens are off to a 4-0 start on the road for only the second time in team history, with Montreal having also done so in 1973-74. That year, the Canadiens opened the campaign with road wins over Minnesota, the Rangers, Pittsburgh and the Flyers, before tying Buffalo to end the streak.
The Canadiens will now open a four-game homestand by taking on the Maple Leafs Saturday night at the Bell Centre before heading back on the road on Oct. 27 in Ottawa as they to look to become the first team in Canadiens history to open a season with five consecutive wins on the road.
NOTES: Canadiens were 0-for-8 on the power-play while the Thrashers went 0-for-9... Danis' stellar performance helped spoil the season debut of newly re-signed Ilya Kovalchuk of the Thrashers... LW Pierre Dagenais returned to lineup and had two hits, one shot on goal and was even on the night, while D Mike Komisarek who had also sat out the last two contests led the Canadiens with four hits and was also even... D Mark Streit was a healthy scratch, while LW Richard Zednik missed his fourth straight game with a groin injury. Raitis Ivanans did not make the trip following injuries he suffered in a tussle with Ottawa's Zdeno Chara on Tuesday night.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com