NHL Game Summary - Atlanta at Montreal
(Tuesday, March 24th)
Final Score: Montreal 6, Atlanta 3
Montreal, QC (Sports Network) - Alex Kovalev and Alex Tanguay both scored twice to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 6-3 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers at the Bell Centre.
Saku Koivu added a goal and two assists, and Glen Metropolit also scored for Montreal, which halted a five-game winless skid. Tanguay and Andrei Markov posted three assists while Carey Price made 22 saves for the Canadiens, who moved two points ahead of idle Florida and into sole possession of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. Both teams have nine games remaining.
"We have the talent and enough confidence to score goals and win games," said Koivu. "In the next few games, work has to come first, and hopefully we'll have the results."
Ilya Kovalchuk and Joey Crabb scored for the Thrashers, who have lost three of their last four games overall. Kari Lehtonen allowed six goals on 22 shots in the loss.
Tanguay's goal 7:21 into the first period opened the scoring. He accepted a pass from Kovalev along the left side above the circle, maneuvered around a pair of defenders, cut to the middle and used a deke move to fool Lehtonen before he tucked the puck inside the right post.
Later in the first period, nifty passing allowed Atlanta to tie the score. Garnet Exelby held control of the puck inside the left circle and sent a soft drop pass for Rich Peverley in the low slot. Peverley then went to the backhand and feathered a pass to Crabb, who redirected the disc past Price with 5:58 remaining.
After Metropolit's sixth goal only 32 seconds into the second, the visitors quickly made it 2-2 while on the power play. With Koivu in the penalty box for holding the stick, the Thrashers dominated the 5-on-4 session. Kovalchuk held control inside the left circle and fired a rocket wrist shot that hit Price's pad, but trickled in behind him at the 2:41 mark.
When Atlanta's Zach Bogosian was whistled for hooking at 8:20 of the second, the Habs returned the favor on the power play and grabbed a 3-2 advantage. After passing the puck around the perimeter, Koivu attempted a quick stuffer at the left post. Lehtonen made the save, but he failed to control the rebound and Kovalev buried the rebound with a backhander from the low slot at 8:37.
A costly four-minute penalty on Bryan Little -- two minutes for interference and another two for unsportsmanlike conduct -- allowed the Habs to score twice on the extended man advantage and essentially put the game out of reach.
"In the second period, our penalty kill didn't go over too well and I wasn't able to help our guys either," said Lehtonen. "It was a poor effort on our penalty kill."
Following Tanguay's second marker of the night 30 seconds into the four-minute 5-on-4, Kovalev's 19th goal of the season less than two minutes later gave Montreal a 5-2 lead. A loose puck inside the left circle was corralled by Tanguay, whose saucer pass across was one-timed home by Kovalev from the lower right slot at the 15:24 mark. The puck hit the crossbar but caromed into the back of the cage.
A giveaway by Tobias Enstrom in the Atlanta defensive zone led to a goal by Koivu inside the first minute of the final stanza before Bogosian's sixth goal near the midpoint of the third capped the scoring.
Montreal is now 2-3-2 since general manager Bob Gainey took over head coaching duties from the fired Guy Carbonneau...The Habs improved to 22-8-6 on home ice this season...Atlanta fell to 16-19-4 on the road in 2008-09...The Habs finished 3-for-6 on the power play, while Atlanta ended 1-for-6 with the extra skater...Montreal will host Tampa Bay on Thursday.
03/24 23:48:40 ET