Donald Audette scored two goals in a game for the first time
this season and Jose Theodore stopped 37 shots and had an assist as
the Montreal Canadiens snapped a nine-game winless skid Monday
night by beating Nashville 3-1.
The defeat snapped an eight-game unbeaten streak at home for the
Predators, who desperately needed the victory in their attempt to
qualify for the playoffs for the first time. They remained five
points behind Edmonton, the eighth-place team that lost to Toronto
3-2 on Monday night.
Nashville coach Barry Trotz worried that the Predators would
take the Canadiens too lightly.
''We fell in that trap,'' Trotz said. ''We looked at Montreal
having struggled on this road trip. I thought our guys thought they
might pack it in. I knew they wouldn't. There's too many good pros
on Montreal and too much pride in that jersey for that to happen.''
On paper, this should have been an easy victory for one of the
NHL's hottest teams. Nashville had been 9-1-1-1 in its past 12
games, while Montreal had not won since beating Edmonton on Feb.
But the Predators, who allowed only two first-period goals in
their past 12 games, couldn't have started this game much slower
before a very quiet crowd of 12,483.
Montreal outshot the Predators 14-5 in the first period, and
Doug Gilmour, possibly playing his last game with Montreal before
the trade deadline Tuesday, scored at 4:51 off a rebound of Mike
Ribeiro's shot near the right post.
Audette made it 2-0 with his sixth of the season by tapping in a
rebound of Patrice Brisebois' miss from the left side at 8:47.
''I thought our first period was outstanding,'' Montreal coach
Claude Julien said. ''When they came back in the second period,
Theodore made some great saves to keep us in the game.''
Theodore played like the goalie who won 30 games and the Hart
and Vezina trophies last season instead of the man who just earned
his 16th victory this season.
''He was there for us when we made mistakes,'' Montreal right
wing Randy McKay said of Theodore. ''It's nice to have him back
there playing the way he did tonight.''
The Predators rallied and outshot Montreal 33-14 the rest of the
game, and Oleg Petrov ended the shutout at 8:41 of the third with
his first goal since being traded by Montreal to the Predators.
Greg Johnson sent a shot across the crease from the right
circle, and the puck went off Vitali Yachmenev's stick. Petrov
poked the puck back toward the crease, and it went off Theodore's
right skate and the left post to pull Nashville to 2-1.
''We didn't panic, and we were able to keep the lead,'' Theodore
That would be it as Theodore stopped Vladimir Orszagh in front
of the crease with 1:50 to go, and he smothered a shot from Scott
Walker 26 seconds later. He helped clinch the victory when he fed
the puck to Audette who scored his second goal with 54.5 seconds
left with a shot from near the red line that hit the middle of the
Nashville captain Greg Johnson said the Predators will regroup
with three more games in the next five days.
''We just have to bounce back,'' he said.
Marcel Hossa and Ribeiro each extended point streaks with
their assists on Montreal's first goal of the game. Hossa has three
assists in three games, while Ribeiro has four assists in that
stretch. ... Saku Koivu padded his point lead to 62 for Montreal
with his assist on Audette's first goal, his 45th this season. ...
Nashville had allowed just one goal in the third period in its last