Huet, Habs hold off Thrashers
After swiping the puck from Thrashers defenseman Andy Sutton, Alexander Perezhogin beat Johan Hedberg for the game-winning goal on Saturday.
MONTREAL (CP) - The Montreal Canadiens have yet to lose consecutive games nearly a quarter of the way through their schedule, and emerging defenseman Mike Komisarek sees that as a change in the team's attitude more than anything else.
Alexander Perezhogin's stunning game-winning goal led the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-1 win over Atlanta on Saturday, handing the Thrashers their fourth straight loss.
The Canadiens bounced back after a poor effort in a 5-1 loss in Florida on Thursday evening.
"Good teams don't lose two in a row or three in a row or have losing streaks," said Komisarek,
who logged over 20 minutes of ice time for the fourth time in five games. "The last couple of years we've always been a team that's in the middle of the pack and on the bubble of making the playoffs, but now I think we're trying to get over that hump and have a winning attitude.
"We want to be one of the elite teams in the conference instead of one of those teams that's always teeter-tottering back and forth."
Michael Ryder and Radek Bonk also scored for the Canadiens (11-5-3), who won for the third time in four games.
Though the Canadiens have avoided losing two in a row, they also haven't won more than two in a row all season.
"It's a long year and every team's close so it's hard to string a lot of wins together," said Habs forward Mike Johnson. "But if you can fight stringing losses together you should be okay."
Glen Metropolit scored for the slumping Thrashers (12-7-3) in their first of a three-game road swing.
Cristobal Huet was solid in the Montreal net with 39 saves to win his third straight start and improve his save percentage to a sparkling .931.
Huet has allowed two or fewer goals in five of his last six starts and it would appear, at least for the mean time, he has earned the upper hand on his counterpart David Aebischer in the mind of head coach Guy Carbonneau.
Carbonneau announced Huet will start Montreal's next game against the Minnesota Wild at home Wednesday, though he would go no further than that.
"Right now, his technique is good and he's making the tough saves look easy," Carbonneau said. "All I can say is he'll be in the net against Minny."
Johan Hedberg started in place of the suddenly struggling Kari Lehtonen, who has allowed 13 goals on 68 shots in his last three starts. Hedberg made 30 saves, and was particularly sharp on a spectacular glove save on Sergei Samsonov late in the first and breakaway saves on both Bonk and Ryder in the third.
"If Hedberg wasn't as good as he was in the first half of the game, we could have easily scored four or five goals," Carbonneau said.
Perezhogin's game-winner in the third, his first goal in nine games, was equal parts luck and skill.
Andrei Markov shot a puck off the glass from his own end that came bouncing into the Thrashers zone towards defenseman Andy Sutton. When he fanned on the puck, Perezhogin swept in and beat Hedberg with a one-handed shot for his second of the year and a 2-1 lead at 6:46 of the third.
"I got a good bounce," Perezhogin said. "I didn't think about the (bouncing) puck, I just thought about scoring."
Ryder gave the Canadiens a 1-0 lead at 14:18 on a power play to snap a nine-game goal-less drought.
Sheldon Souray blasted a shot from the point that was blocked by Sutton, but the puck bounced right to Ryder in the slot who roofed a slap shot over Hedberg's right shoulder for his fifth goal of the season.
The Canadiens nearly went ahead 2-0 late in the second when Samsonov's shot at a wide open net was stopped by Hedberg with his glove on the goal-line.
The play went trough a lengthy video review before the save was confirmed.
After a second period with few chances and little flow, the Thrashers tied the game 1-1 at 3:30 of the third when Metropolit's seemingly harmless shot bounced off Souray and past Huet for his third goal of the season.
After Perezhogin gave Montreal the lead, Bonk added an empty-netter at 18:46 of the third for his fourth of the season.
Notes: Canadiens Hall of Fame defenseman Serge Savard had his No. 18 jersey retired in a pre-game ceremony.