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Canadiens’ Cristobal Huet is cleanly beaten by Atlanta Thrashers’ Marian Hossa for a shootout goal.
Tammi Chappell, Reuters
The Canadiens’ three-game road winning streak came to an end Saturday night, in a shootout.
The Atlanta Thrashers earned a 3-2 home-ice win with shootout goals by Marian Hossa and Vyacheslav Kozlov while both Saku Koivu and Sergei Kostitsyn of the Canadiens couldn’t beat goalie Kari Lehtonen at the other end of the ice.
Hossa was successful on his shootout effort, drilling one past Canadiens goalie Cristobal Huet, while Kozlov followed with a pretty deke to score.
Koivu was pokechecked by Lehtonen, and Kostitsyn’s attempt to deke and go high was blocked by the Atlanta goalie’s pad.
The Canadiens handily outshot their hosts 36-25 through three periods – they were 3-3 in overtime – but came up short nevertheless, earning a single point for their work.
Huet was totally fooled by Kozlov’s game-opening goal at 4:31 of the first period, fanning on a 40-foot snap shot from along the boards near the faceoff circle to his right.
It took a few minutes for the Canadiens to rediscover the skating legs they showed early, but industrious work by Koivu finally set up linemate Sergei Kostitsyn for the Russian rookie’s second career goal in as many games, this one coming on a rebound off Koivu’s close-in shot past Lehtonen at 12:16.
For the first time in the longest time, the Canadiens dominated the first period, outshooting their hosts 11-5.
The second period was largely a circus of missed chances, the Canadiens outshooting Atlanta 14-12. They seemed headed to their dressing rooms tied at one until Atlanta’s Éric Perrin put the Thrashers in front with 1:07 to go on the power play, converting a short cross-crease pass from Hossa over a prone Huet.
Alex Kovalev’s 15th of the season put the Canadiens back on even footing, blasting a 43-foot slap shot from the faceoff circle that found its way beneath Lehtonen’s trapper at 8:20. Though not a power-play goal, it might as well have been – Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk was out of the box just one second when Kovalev tied the score.
The Habs didn’t make things easy for themselves in the final two minutes of regulation time. Defenceman Roman Hamrlik took a minor penalty for holding the stick with 1:45 left to play, but the Canadiens resisted good Thrashers pressure, including a blocked shot by Francis Bouillon with seconds left, to force overtime.
The Canadiens left immediately after the game for Dallas, where they play sniper Mike Ribeiro and his Stars tonight.