ATLANTA (AP) -- Montreal's players knew high-scoring Atlanta would turn up
its offensive pressure in the final period Monday night, but the Canadiens also
knew they had an answer tending the goal.
Montreal's Jose Theodore made 13 of his 26 saves in the third period as the
Canadiens held on for a 2-1 win over the Thrashers.
"Jose made huge saves," said Montreal's Sheldon Souray. "He does it time
and time again. He's a rock back there."
Theodore has regained the form that made him the NHL MVP two seasons ago.
His 2.23 goals-against average and .922 save percentage are better than his
"This was his night," Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk said of Theodore.
Kovalchuk, second in the league in goals and points, was helped off the ice
with an injury late in the first period. He returned shortly thereafter.
Theodore denied two scoring chances by Kovalchuk, one by J.P. Vigier and one
by Shawn McEachern in the final five minutes of the game.
The Thrashers generated repeated two-on-one opportunities in the closing
minutes despite playing short-handed. Marc Savard drew a five-minute penalty
for attempting to injure when he threw an elbow at Montreal's Saku Koivu with
Time after time, Theodore denied the Thrashers.
"The Thrashers got their second wind and took it to us in the second half
of the game, and that's where he did a good job for us and kept us in it and
gave us the win," Montreal coach Claude Julien said of Theodore. "He was
Only Detroit has scored more goals than Atlanta this season, but the
Thrashers have been streaky. Shut out in three straight losses earlier this
month, the Thrashers rebounded to score 14 goals in three consecutive games
before losing 5-2 at Ottawa on Sunday.
On what played out like a short-handed goal, Montreal took a 1-0 lead with
3:39 left in the first period as Kovalchuk was sprawled face down on the ice.
Andrei Markov scored his third goal of the season from the right circle.
Patrice Brisebois and Koivu were credited with the assists, but the Thrashers'
top concern was with their leading scorer.
Kovalchuk was hit in his left ankle by a puck shot by a teammate, and he
needed help leaving the ice. He returned about three minutes into the second
period and took a roughing penalty.
With only 13 seconds left in the first, Brisebois earned another assist as
Montreal went ahead 2-0 on Pierre Dagenais' fifth goal. Dagenais scored
following a stop by goaltender Byron Dafoe.
The Thrashers cut the deficit to 2-1 at 9:42 of the second period on a shot
by Ronald Petrovicky in front of the crease.
Savard's major penalty hampered the Thrashers' comeback effort and left
Koivu with a possible concussion.
Julien said Koivu "got his bell rung pretty good" and was dizzy after the
play. Koivu's status will be determined Tuesday.
Savard appeared to keep his elbow low, and the crowd of 17,310 booed the
Atlanta coach Bob Hartley also appeared displeased the officials gave Savard
the five-minute penalty.
"You have to ask them about that," Savard said when asked about the call.
"We're not allowed to comment on officiating."
Added Hartley: "Savard is a big player for us. However, we still have 19 on
the bench, so losing a player will never be an excuse for not winning a hockey