Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Canadiens beat Thrashers 2-1 in a shootout to end losing streak

Thrashers-vs-Habs09.thumbnail The Montreal Canadiens snap their five-game losing streak Tuesday night.

The Montreal Canadiens averted their worst start since the 1941-42 season with a 2-1 shootout win over the Atlanta Thrashers Tuesday.

The game began with the Canadiens nursing a five-game losing streak and Atlanta having their best start (4-1) since 1999.

Montreal came out strong, in the first forty minutes, outshooting the Thrashers 21-13.

Ondrej Pavelec was rock solid in goal for the Thrashers, stopping 34 of 35 shots in a losing cause.

“Pavelec was great and I thought the guy at the other end was pretty good as well," Thrashers coach John Anderson said. "You don't see goaltending battles like this very often. I just wish we could have won it for Pavelec.”


Pavelec said he wasn’t overly disappointed to leave the Bell Centre with a single point.

“Every time you step on the ice, you're looking for a win. We got one point tonight,” Pavelec said. “It was up and down. They could have won and we could have as well.”

The “other guy” as referred to by Anderson, was Jaroslav Halak.

The Slovak netminder was in just his second start this season, for the Canadiens, but made 22 saves. Most of his stops came a well-timed moments.

Brain Gionta opened the scoring with the the lone Canadiens goal, with 2:16 remaining the first period, on a pass from Mike Cammalleri.

The Canadiens penalty killers were exceptional, shutting down the league’s top power play unit on all four opportunities.

Montreal’s power play units continued to struggle however, going 0 for 5. The Canadiens are 2 for 27 since the losing Andrei Markov to injury in their first game of the season.

Colby Armstrong scored his first goal of the season in reply for Atlanta at 6:06 of the third period.

Earlier, Armstrong showed his physical strengths with a thunderous hit, in the second period, on Canadiens newcomer Marc-Andre Bergeron.

The Canadiens defender got up, on his own power, but appeared a bit woozy. He remained in the game, but appeared to have concussion-like symptoms the rest of the way.

Many, including TSN’s studio panel, felt that Bergeron should have got out of the game as a precaution.

“I’m ok. I was hesitant at first,” Bergeron said afterwards. “Actually, I was hesitant pretty much the whole game. I kept my shifts short and focused on my defensive part of the game,” he added. “As more games are coming, my confidence and my offensive skills are gonna show.”

In overtime, Atlanta forward Victor Kozlov leveled a from-behind hit , on Scott Gomez, and received a five-minute boarding major, and a ten-minute misconduct. Kozlov will undoubtedly receive further disciplinary action from the NHL for the incident.

Unable to capitalize on the man-advantage for the remaining 2:45 of overtime, the Canadiens went into the shootout with Atlanta.

Thrashers-vs-Habs08.thumbnailGionta and Gomez each scored in the shootout, and Halak stopped Ilya Kovalchuk and Rich Peverley to preserve the win.

Kovalchuk has just three goals in his last fourteen games against the Canadiens. With an assist on the Armstrong goal, Peverley has registered a point in each Thrashers game this season. He received a two-year contract extension earlier in the day.

The win was Montreal’s first at the Bell Centre this season, and the first since March 31, 2009.

“We had a lot of great chances, and I think that's a good measure of how you're playing,” Gionta said. “If you're getting those chances then you're doing something right, so it's a matter of sticking with it and trying to be patient. Any two points is big because they have a good team there. They're 4-and-1 and rolling. so it's nice to get a win against an offensive-minded team”

“It was a game where we dominated, but didn’t show up on the scoreboard,” said Canadiens coach Jacques Martin. “We kept coming, we didn’t panic, we showed some poise and in the end, we won it in the shootout.”

The Canadiens continue their home stand on Thursday when the welcome the New York Islanders, the New York Rangers on Saturday and the Islanders again Monday.

Three Stars: 1. Scott Gomez 2. Ondrej Pavelec 3. Brian Gionta


All photos courtesy: HabsInsideOut/Montreal Gazette

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