MONTREAL (AP) -- Slava Kozlov drew inspiration from former Soviet
Olympic great Vladimir Krutov and put a fine breakaway move to good
use against a tough goalie.
Kozlov scored the only shootout goal to lift the Atlanta
Thrashers to a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday
Thrashers rookie Kari Lehtonen made 26 saves and stopped Alex
Kovalev and Alexander Perezhogin before denying Michael Ryder on
Montreal's third shot after Kozlov put a backhand through Cristobal
Huet's legs on Atlanta's third shootout attempt.
"When I was a kid I watched hockey and (Krutov) did that
move," Kozlov said. "You can't use that move against every
goalie. I tried to do it against Patrick Roy and it didn't work. I
was a bit nervous because I missed my first two shootout attempts
and that was my third opportunity. That was a last-minute decision.
It looked easy but I was a little bit nervous."
Huet stopped Marian Hossa and Ilya Kovalchuk -- the Thrashers'
first two shooters -- after making 22 saves, including five big ones
in overtime as the Canadiens barely made it through to a shootout.
"Huet played unbelievable," Kovalchuk said. "That save he
made in the last second of OT was crazy."
Making his sixth straight start in place of struggling starter
Jose Theodore, Huet drew cheers and chants of his last name after
he made a pad save on Hossa 2:32 into overtime.
"Right now the puck is finding him instead of the net,"
Montreal captain Saku Koivu said.
Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov then drew a tripping penalty
when he upended Hossa with 57.8 seconds remaining in overtime.
Huet made several big saves on Hossa during the ensuing 5-on-3
power play, including a stunning pad save off a backhand while he
was sprawled on the ice.
"I had it on my forehand and I went to my backhand and half the
net was empty," Hossa said. "I had him beat. He slid over and
somehow he moved a leg and it went out. I couldn't believe it."
"He had plenty of time there," Huet said. "I had my pad down
and I figured he would lift the puck so I just lifted my pad a
little bit. That was a little bit lucky. I think he could have done
whatever he wanted with me if he knew he had that much time. We'll
take that. It gave us a chance to win in the shootout."
Brad Larsen scored early in the first for Atlanta, which has won
three of four following a season-high seven-game losing streak.
Jan Bulis tied it in the second for Montreal, which earned
points in five straight games (3-0-2).
"It's tough to lose any time but if you ask (Huet) I think he's
pretty happy with his performance tonight even though we only got
one point," Koivu said. "It was a big point for us and he kept us
in the game and he only allowed one goal in the shootout but we
just weren't able to get one by Lehtonen."
Lehtonen, the second pick overall in the 2002 draft, made his
10th consecutive start, evening his overall record at 9-9.
Lehtonen, who has made 18 starts and appeared in 19 of 20 games
since Dec. 30, withdrew from Finland's Olympic hockey team Jan. 26
because he hadn't fully recovered from a groin injury that caused
him to miss 35 games.
"After those saves that (Huet) made in overtime I thought there
was nothing that could stop that guy, that's why it was such a
relief when Kozlov got that goal," Lehtonen said. "It was fun to
play here. Nice atmosphere and great fans, I enjoyed it a lot."
Bulis (Slovakia) and Koivu (Finland), who signed a three-year
contract extension earlier in the day, are among the six Montreal
players who will take part in the Olympics along with Kovalev and
Andrei Markov (Russia), Richard Zednik (Slovakia) and Mark Streit
"There isn't too much time," Koivu said. "I've got to go home
and pack and leave (Sunday), have one practice and then we play on
Ilya Kovalchuk (Russia), Peter Bondra and Hossa (Slovakia) and
Niclas Havelid (Sweden) are the four Thrashers who will play in
"It's an unbelievable feeling to know that (Sunday) we're going
to fly there and all the best players are going to be there,"
Kovalchuk said. "It's going to be an exciting tournament and a
really good experience."
Montreal will play six straight road games following the Olympic
break, beginning Feb. 28 at the New York Islanders. Atlanta is
(1-1-0) during a five-game trip that resumes March 1 in Buffalo and
ends the following night in Boston.
Larsen opened the scoring 3:40 in when he put a backhand past
Huet for his third goal of the season.
Bulis tied it with his 15th goal 2:49 into the second as he took
a pass from Zednik before beating Lehtonen.
Thrashers RW Ronald Petrovicky is an alternate for the
Slovakian Olympic team. ... The Canadiens' next home game is on
March 11, the 10th anniversary of the last game at the Montreal
Forum. The team will retire Hall of Famer Bernie "Boom-Boom"
Geoffrion's No. 5 prior to the game against the Rangers. ...
Canadiens equipment manager Pierre Gervais will perform the same
function for Canada's Olympic team in Turin. ... Montreal has sold
out each of its 27 home games.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Bell Centre Location: Montreal, Quebec
Referees: Mike Leggo, Rob Martell Linesmen: Steve Barton, David Brisebois
Attendance: 21,273 (100.0% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Brad Larsen (3)
Assist: Slava Kozlov
Jan Bulis (15)
Assists: Richard Zednik, Mathieu Dandenault
No scoring this period
No scoring this period
Marian Hossa shootout attempt against Cristobal Huet with a Backhand results in a SAVE!
Alexei Kovalev shootout attempt against Kari Lehtonen with a Wide of Net results in a MISS!
Ilya Kovalchuk shootout attempt against Cristobal Huet with a Snapshot results in a SAVE!
Alexander Perezhogin shootout attempt against Kari Lehtonen with a Wristshot results in a SAVE!
Slava Kozlov shootout attempt against Cristobal Huet with a Backhand results in a GOAL!
Michael Ryder shootout attempt against Kari Lehtonen with a Wristshot results in a SAVE!