MONTREAL (AP) _ The Atlanta Thrashers know they can count on Ilya Kovalchuk
to get their offense going.
Kovalchuk had a goal and an assist, and Frantisek Kaberle, Patrik Stefan and
Dany Heatley also scored to lead the Atlanta Thrashers to a 4-1 win over the
Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.
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
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