With some unintentional help, Canadiens stop Thrashers

ATLANTA (AP) -- Montreal goalie Yann Danis had the NHL debut he

The 24-year-old stopped 32 shots in the Canadiens' 2-0 victory
over the Atlanta Thrashers Wednesday night.

"I imagined it," Danis said after shutting down Ilya Kovalchuk
and a powerful Atlanta attack. "It was a good start for me. Our
team scored the first goal, so my confidence was there. ... But
it's only one game."

Danis is the third Montreal goalie to win his debut with a
shutout, following Wayne Thomas in 1973 and Bob Perreault in 1955.

"He made saves when he needed to," said Saku Koivu, who scored
Montreal's second goal. "It was not an easy spot for him."

Montreal coach Claude Julien rested the team's normal starting
goalie, Jose Theodore.

With a little help from Thrashers' defenseman Bobby Holik, Jan
Bulis gave the Canadiens a 1-0 lead only 3 minutes into the game,
and that goal stood until Koivu scored in the third period.

Kovalchuk, who in 2003-04 tied Jarome Iginla and Rick Nash for
the league lead in goals with 41, made his season debut after
signing a five-year, $32 million deal with the Thrashers on
Saturday. He received his work visa from the Immigration and
Naturalization Service late Tuesday, clearing him to play against
the Canadiens.

Even without Kovalchuk, the Thrashers, coming off an 8-1 win
over Washington, were averaging five goals and 38.3 shots per game
this season.

Kovalchuk, who didn't start but entered the game early in the
first period, couldn't score on five shots.

"It felt good to be back on the ice tonight," Kovalchuk said.

"We have a really good team right now. This was one game. We
should just forget about it tonight, watch the video tomorrow, work
hard and fix the problems and find our game."

Montreal also had difficulty scoring.

After a save by goalie Mike Dunham three minutes into the game,
Holik accidently kicked the puck into the Thrashers' net while
trying to clear it out. Bulis was credited with his second goal of
the season.

After losing Dunham for the remainder of the night to a groin
injury about 7 minutes into the game, the Thrashers also were left
with a young goalie, 22-year-old Michael Garnett, also making his

"I felt a little twinge in the groin," Dunham said. "I tried
playing with it to see if the groin would loosen up, and it didn't,
so I came out to prevent further damage."

Dunham's status for Friday's home game against Toronto is not

Garnett was called up from Chicago of the American Hockey League
last week to back up Dunham while No. 1 goalie Keri Lehtonen
recovers from a groin injury. Lehtonen was hurt in a season-opening
loss at Florida on Oct. 5 and went on injured reserve. He is
expected to miss at least two weeks.

Garnett stopped 23 shots through two periods to keep the
Canadiens' lead at 1-0 and overall stopped 29 of 30 shots.

"I felt good out there, but unfortunately we could not get any
goals," Garnett said.

Montreal couldn't take advantage of a two-man advantage early in
the third period when the Thrashers were called for two 2-minute

The Canadiens pushed the lead to 2-0 less than seven minutes
into the final period when Saku Koivu took the puck behind the net
and then reached around Thrashers defenseman Jaroslav Modry to push
the shot past Garnett. Francis Bouillon and Alexander Perezhogin
were credited with assists -- the first of the season for each. It
was Koivu's second goal of the season.

Kovalchuk had two shots blocked as the Thrashers couldn't score
with a two-man advantage that began with about 4 minutes left to
play. It was a fitting cap to a strong debut by Danis.

"I was really focused," Danis said. "I saw the puck all

Said Koivu: "When they got the five-on-three, I was a little
worried about that. When you have to kill almost two minutes, it's

The Canadiens moved to 4-0 in road games for the first time
since winning their first four road contests in the 1973-74 season.
Montreal (4-1) now plays four straight home games.

Game notes
Montreal center Steve Begin was helped off the ice with an
apparent knee injury midway through the second period. ... Montreal
improved to 8-1-2 in Atlanta. The Canadiens' only loss in Atlanta
came on Jan. 15, 2003. ... The Thrashers play host to Toronto on
Friday night.