Skip to main content

Thrashers 2, Canadiens 1, SO @NHLdotcom

MONTREAL (AP) - Slava Kozlov drew inspiration from former Soviet Olympic great Vladimir Krutov and put a fine breakaway move to good use against a tough goalie.

Kozlov scored the only shootout goal to lift the Atlanta Thrashers to a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.

Thrashers rookie Kari Lehtonen made 26 saves and stopped Alex Kovalev and Alexander Perezhogin before denying Michael Ryder on Montreal's third shot after Kozlov put a backhand through Cristobal Huet's legs on Atlanta's third shootout attempt.

"When I was a kid I watched hockey and (Krutov) did that move," Kozlov said. "You can't use that move against every goalie. I tried to do it against Patrick Roy and it didn't work. I was a bit nervous because I missed my first two shootout attempts and that was my third opportunity. That was a last-minute decision. It looked easy but I was a little bit nervous."

Huet stopped Marian Hossa and Ilya Kovalchuk - the Thrashers' first two shooters - after making 22 saves, including five big ones in overtime as the Canadiens barely made it through to a shootout.

"Huet played unbelievable," Kovalchuk said. "That save he made in the last second of OT was crazy."

Making his sixth straight start in place of struggling starter Jose Theodore, Huet drew cheers and chants of his last name after he made a pad save on Hossa 2:32 into overtime.

"Right now the puck is finding him instead of the net," Montreal captain Saku Koivu said.

Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov then drew a tripping penalty when he upended Hossa with 57.8 seconds remaining in overtime.

Huet made several big saves on Hossa during the ensuing 5-on-3 power play, including a stunning pad save off a backhand while he was sprawled on the ice.

"I had it on my forehand and I went to my backhand and half the net was empty," Hossa said. "I had him beat. He slid over and somehow he moved a leg and it went out. I couldn't believe it."

"He had plenty of time there," Huet said. "I had my pad down and I figured he would lift the puck so I just lifted my pad a little bit. That was a little bit lucky. I think he could have done whatever he wanted with me if he knew he had that much time. We'll take that. It gave us a chance to win in the shootout."

Brad Larsen scored early in the first for Atlanta, which has won three of four following a season-high seven-game losing streak.

Jan Bulis tied it in the second for Montreal, which earned points in five straight games (3-0-2).

"It's tough to lose any time but if you ask (Huet) I think he's pretty happy with his performance tonight even though we only got one point," Koivu said. "It was a big point for us and he kept us in the game and he only allowed one goal in the shootout but we just weren't able to get one by Lehtonen."

Lehtonen, the second pick overall in the 2002 draft, made his 10th consecutive start, evening his overall record at 9-9. Lehtonen, who has made 18 starts and appeared in 19 of 20 games since Dec. 30, withdrew from Finland's Olympic hockey team Jan. 26 because he hadn't fully recovered from a groin injury that caused him to miss 35 games.

"After those saves that (Huet) made in overtime I thought there was nothing that could stop that guy, that's why it was such a relief when Kozlov got that goal," Lehtonen said. "It was fun to play here. Nice atmosphere and great fans, I enjoyed it a lot."

Bulis (Slovakia) and Koivu (Finland), who signed a three-year contract extension earlier in the day, are among the six Montreal players who will take part in the Olympics along with Kovalev and Andrei Markov (Russia), Richard Zednik (Slovakia) and Mark Streit (Switzerland).

"There isn't too much time," Koivu said. "I've got to go home and pack and leave (Sunday), have one practice and then we play on Wednesday."

Ilya Kovalchuk (Russia), Peter Bondra and Hossa (Slovakia) and Niclas Havelid (Sweden) are the four Thrashers who will play in Turin.

"It's an unbelievable feeling to know that (Sunday) we're going to fly there and all the best players are going to be there," Kovalchuk said. "It's going to be an exciting tournament and a really good experience."

Montreal will play six straight road games following the Olympic break, beginning Feb. 28 at the New York Islanders. Atlanta is (1-1-0) during a five-game trip that resumes March 1 in Buffalo and ends the following night in Boston.

Larsen opened the scoring 3:40 in when he put a backhand past Huet for his third goal of the season.

Bulis tied it with his 15th goal 2:49 into the second as he took a pass from Zednik before beating Lehtonen.

Notes: Thrashers RW Ronald Petrovicky is an alternate for the Slovakian Olympic team. ... The Canadiens' next home game is on March 11, the 10th anniversary of the last game at the Montreal Forum. The team will retire Hall of Famer Bernie "Boom-Boom" Geoffrion's No. 5 prior to the game against the Rangers. ... Canadiens equipment manager Pierre Gervais will perform the same function for Canada's Olympic team in Turin. ... Montreal has sold out each of its 27 home games.

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.