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Thrashers-Canadiens Preview

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GAME: Atlanta Thrashers (25-26-6) at Montreal Canadiens (26-22-7).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.

While Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jose Theodore continues to be in the spotlight for his actions off the ice, backup Cristobal Huet is quietly getting the job done.

Huet is expected to try to lead the Canadiens to their fourth win in five games when they host the Atlanta Thrashers.

The French native has recorded shutouts in two of his last four starts, and has allowed just five goals in that span.

Huet made 26 saves and Alexei Kovalev scored twice, including the game winner 39 second into overtime, en route to a 3-2 win Thursday over the Buffalo Sabres for a split of their home-and-home series.

Earlier in the day, it was announced Theodore tested positive for a banned substance in pre-Olympic testing.

Canadiens team doctor David Mulder said the test was the result of Theodore taking Propecia, a hair-growth stimulant, which is also considered a masking agent for a performance-enhancing steroid. Theodore was not selected for Canada's Olympic team and his NHL status will not be affected since the screening wasn't part of the NHL's new testing program.

"I don't feel I've got anything to hide," Theodore said. "It's not something I got on the black market. It was a prescription from the doctor for eight years and I don't feel uncomfortable about anything."

While Huet has led the Canadiens to a 3-0-1 record in the last four games, he has lost his two career starts against the Thrashers and allowed eight goals.

Atlanta tallied its first road win in five games with a 2-1 victory Thursday over the Ottawa Senators behind power-play goals from Ilya Kovalchuk and Andy Sutton

"Our power play was playing really well tonight, and our penalty killing did an unbelievable job," said Kovalchuk, who has two goals and two assists in a four-game points streak.

Atlanta has scored six power-play goals in its last four games.

Kari Lehtonen stopped 34 shots and Marc Savard and Niclas Havelid each had two assists for the Thrashers, who have won two of three since a season-high seven-game losing streak.

The Thrashers have just five wins in 23 games all-time against the Canadiens with three coming in Montreal.

STANDINGS: Thrashers - 56 points, 3rd place, 24 PB, Southeast Division. Canadiens - 59 points, 3rd place (tied), 18 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Thrashers - Kovalchuk, 37 goals; Savard, 48 assists; Kovalchuk and Savard, 72 points; Sutton, 104 PIM. Canadiens - Michael Ryder, 23 goals; Kovalev, Saku Koivu, Mike Ribeiro and Andrei Markov, 25 assists; Kovalev and Koivu, 39 points; Steve Begin, 97 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Thrashers - Power play: 19.9 percent (77 for 387), 6th in NHL. Penalty killing: 79 percent (283 for 358), 26th. Canadiens - Power play: 18.3 percent (56 for 306), 10th (tied). Penalty killing: 80.4 percent (275 for 342), 22nd.

GOALTENDERS: Thrashers - Lehtonen (8-9-0, 1 SO, 2.97 GAA); Mike Dunham (4-4-1, 1, 2.79). Canadiens - Theodore (17-15-5, 3.46); Huet (6-5-2, 2, 2.47).

SEASON SERIES: Canadiens, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 26; Thrashers, 4-0. At Atlanta, Michael Garnett made 36 saves to become the first Atlanta goaltender to post consecutive shutouts and Jaroslav Modry had a goal and three assists.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Thrashers - 11-15-2 on the road; Canadiens - 16-7-3 at home.

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