ATLANTA (AP) - The Atlanta Thrashers are headed in the right direction in their bid for their first postseason appearance, beating a team that had dominated them this season.
Jon Sim scored two twice as the Thrashers beat Montreal 6-2 on Thursday night for their fifth consecutive victory, matching the team record and moving them into first place in the Southeast Division. The Thrashers also edged closer to making the playoffs for the first time in their seven-year history.
"It's a big win. Everyone played hard. We had four lines, six defenceman, all working hard," said Sim, who said the biggest contributor, however, was goalie Kari Lehtonen.
"Kari played great," he said. "He's a great goalie.
"He played well for us early and then we got our heads in it and came back strong."
Lehtonen had 33 saves and has a 1.80 goals-against average during the winning streak.
Keith Tkachuk, who remains unbeaten (5-0) with the Thrashers since being acquired from St. Louis on Feb. 25 also had good things to say about the second-year goaltender.
"Our goalie, again, played outstanding," he said. "Everything we seemed to be shooting was going in.
"It's fun right now, good things are happening, and that's the way we have to play."
Marian Hossa, Atlanta's leading scorer, had two assists as the Thrashers broke a tie with idle Tampa Bay for the Southeast lead with 82 points.
Atlanta's other goals came from Ilya Kovalchuk, Vyacheslav Kozlov, Eric Belanger and J.P. Vigier. Kovalchuk, Kozlov and Belanger also had assists.
The Thrashers broke the game open in the second, scoring four times in less than nine minutes for a 6-0 lead. Montreal, which is also fighting for a playoff spot, lost for the fourth straight time and 11th in 15 games.
"That game was embarrassing. Nothing else to say," said Montreal's Mike Johnson, who had assists on both of the Canadiens goals. "There is not a positive to put on it.
"Nothing to take out of it."
The Thrashers took a 2-0 lead in the first period with Kovalchuk and Sim scoring three minutes apart to help Atlanta beat Montreal for the first time this season after three losses.
Kovalchuk, who has a goal in three straight games, got his 36th on a power play 9:45 into the period, blasting a slapshot from the left point past Montreal goaltender Jaroslav Halak, the puck dribbling into the net after first hitting the pads of Halak.
"That first goal on the power play gave us life because Montreal got off to a pretty good start," said Atlanta coach Bob Hartley. The Canadiens had four shots on goal in the first 1:10.
"They skated well and we knew they would be desperate with the kind of week they went through."
The Thrashers got it to 2-0 as Sim scored his 16th goal at 11:45 when Belanger stole the puck and passed to Sim, who poked it past Halak.
Kozlov began the Thrashers' second-period run with his 22nd goal at 3:41, then drawing an assist 30 seconds later on a goal by Belanger, his 14th.
When Vigier scored his fifth goal on a rebound at 6:47, it was 5-0 and the Canadiens changed goalies.
In came David Aebischer, who was beaten less than two minutes later when Sim knocked in a rebound at 8:43 for his 17th goal. Montreal scored at 9:27 on a goal by Guillaume Latendresse, his 12th, beating Lehtonen.
The Canadiens scored at 8:24 of the third period on a goal by Radek Bonk, his 12th.
Both Montreal and Atlanta have 13 regular-season games remaining.
Notes: The Thrashers have won five games on three other occasions, the most recent was Dec. 19-27, 2006. ... Kozlov's assist on the second-period goal by Belanger was the 400th of his career. ... The Thrashers are 5-0 since acquiring Tkachuk and Pascal Dupuis and D Alexei Zhitnik.