Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series tied 2-2

Game 1: Tuesday, November 26th
Game 2: Wednesday, January 15th
Game 3: Tuesday, February 4th
Game 4: Thursday, March 13th

Canadiens 0

(18-18-4, 45 pts)

Jets 1

(13-25-4, 32 pts)

7:30 PM ET, January 15, 2003

Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia

1 2 3 T
MTL 0 0 00
WPG 0 0 11

P. Nurminen (Jets - G): Saves: 22, Save Pct.: 1.000

M. Savard (Jets - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

A. Sutton (Jets - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 0

Nurminen notches second career shutout

ATLANTA (AP) -- Bob Hartley has been a winner everywhere he's coached. For one game at least, he kept his reputation intact with the woeful Atlanta Thrashers.

Marc Savard

Marc Savard scored with 4:29 left, Pasi Nurminen recorded his second career shutout and Hartley won his debut as Thrashers coach, beating the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 Wednesday night.

"It felt a little strange to see the different-colored jerseys,'' Hartley said. "But once the puck dropped, it was back to business.''

Hartley was hired by the Thrashers on Tuesday, taking over the NHL's worst team after coaching one of the best, the Colorado Avalanche.

His new team was eager to make a good impression.

"The guys were a little nervous,'' captain Shawn McEachern said. "We know he's the guy who coached in Colorado, one of the powerhouses of the league. He's been coaching Patrick Roy, Joe Sakic, those guys.''

Hartley guided Colorado to four straight Western Conference finals and the 2001 Stanley Cup championship. He was fired less than a month ago when the Avalanche got off to a sluggish start.

Hartley, who also won two junior and two minor-league championships, is back behind the bench with the team that has compiled the fewest points in two of the last three years and is last overall again this season.

"The more of a winning frame of mind we get around here, the better,'' defenseman Andy Sutton said. "He expects to win. He knows how to win at a high level. That's exactly what we need around here.''

The Thrashers scored the only goal after Dany Heatley was dragged down by Montreal defenseman Patrick Traverse with 4:42 remaining. Just 13 seconds into the power play, Jose Theodore made a save on Heatley's long shot but the rebound went to Savard, who flipped a shot through the screened goalie's legs.

"We kept going at them all night,'' Savard said. "We had four lines chipping in, and that's what we need.''

Nurminen, starting in place of the injured Byron Dafoe, stopped 22 shots for Atlanta's first home win since Dec. 16. In that game, Nurminen beat Toronto 1-0 for the first shutout of his career.

Ten days later, the Thrashers fired coach Curt Fraser, with GM Don Waddell taking over on an interim basis. Atlanta went 4-5-1 under Waddell, who returned to his familiar perch high above Philips Arena.

Hartley was not introduced before the game, but he received a big cheer from the crowd of 11,116 when shown on the video board in the opening minutes. At the end, the fans were screaming again as the Thrashers held off Montreal on a brief two-skater advantage to win Hartley's debut.

"I wanted to play like it was the last game of the year,'' Nurminen said. "I put everything into it.''

The Thrashers beat the Canadiens for only the second time in team history and the first time ever at Philips Arena.

"They played a better defensive style this time,'' Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. "Right now, they are tough to play against.''

Theodore, last season's league MVP, turned away 32 shots but dropped to 11-15-3.

"We're satisfied with our goalie,'' Therrien said. "The last two months, he has brought his game to what we expected.''

This has become familiar for the Canadiens; eight of their last 10 games have been decided by one goal.

Nurminen came up huge during a three-shot sequence late in the first period.

Joe Juneau swept in from the right side and was turned aside by Nurminen, who also stopped Andrei Markov on the rebound. Juneau got the puck again, all alone in front of the net, but his backhander was smothered by Nurminen with another brilliant save.

"I think he saw the empty net,'' Nurminen said. "Luck or not luck, I got it.''

Waddell was so impressed that he rose from his ninth-floor seat to give his goalie a standing ovation.

Game notes

The Thrashers recalled G Milan Hnilicka from their Chicago farm team to serve as Nurminen's backup while Dafoe is out. ... Atlanta RW Lubos Bartecko was scratched from the lineup with a groin strain. ... Montreal RW Donald Audette, an All-Star with the Thrashers in 2001, didn't get a chance to play against his former team. He was scratched because of the flu. ... Montreal RW Richard Zednik hobbled off late in the second period after being struck on the left ankle with a shot, but he returned for the final period.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press