The Canadiens and Thrashers have now met 3 out of 4 times this season, and each game has required a shootout to break a 2-2 tie. With Atlanta winning the first two shootouts, the Canadiens decided to force-feed Atlanta their own medicine last night.
Andrei Kostitsyn was the talk of the game, as he scored an absolutley dazzling goal in regulation, following up by scoring the shootout winner.
Prior to last night's contest, Montreal was the only NHL team to have never won a game when trailing after the 1st period, but that stat is now history.
The Thrashers opened the scoring late in the first with their 1st of 2 flukey goals. Marian Hossa set up along the goal line, and tried to thread a pass cross crease to Eric Perrin, but the pass ended up catching the inside of Huet's blocker, and was redirected behind Cristobal and into the net.
Early in the second, Andrei Kostitsyn took a pass from Tomas Plekanec and streaked through the neutral zone, first making a move to elude Perrin, then stickhandling to get by Ken Klee, and finally forehand-to-backhanding to beat Kari Lehtonen for the high-light reel marker.
The Habs got their first lead early in the third, when a passing play between Smolinski, Latendresse and Ryder culminated for a goal. Latendresse threw the puck towards the goal, and Ryder stretched his stick out to jab the puck, managing to deflect it up and over Lehtonen's shoulder.
But, the Thrashers would eventually tie it up, on a very weird play created by Cristobal Huet.
Huet came out to play a puck along his goal line, but somehow froze solid when faced with the decision to either pass off to a waiting Hamrlik, or wrist the puck around the net and along the boards on a common reverse play. Instead, Eric Perrin introduced Huet to option 3, as he skated in and jarred the puck free to the top of an unguarded crease, allowing Pascal Dupuis to cash in on the open cage. Christmas 2008 came 11 months early for Dupuis...
The shootout saw Kozlov up first. Straying away from his usual patience tactic, he tried to fool Huet by releasing a quick shot. Kozlov wound up missing the net.
Andrei Kostitsyn was up next, and he converted on some nifty stickhandling to slide the puck five hole through Lehtonen.
Marian Hossa tried his luck, but was denied by Huet, who stayed with the fake provided by Hossa and stuck the pad out for the stop.
Koivu had the chance to end it early, and he made the early exit possibility a reality. Moving in with great speed, Koivu released a simple low wrist shot that caught Lehtonen's left pad slightly, but not enough to stop the resulting momentum from carrying the puck across the goal-line.
-Atlanta have never defeated the Habs 3 times in a season, and now have one game remaining to accomplish the feat. With the OTL, Atlanta now own sole possession of 1st place in the Southeast, as the Hurricanes lost 5-1 in Ottawa.
-Montreal's 4 game road trip result: 3-1. They are the 2nd best road team in the NHL, all the while improving to 24-14-8 overall. The Habs have not allowed Ilya Kovalchuk to register a single point against them through 3 games this season. They return home to host the red-hot Penguins on Saturday night.
PLEASE, if you haven't already seen it, tune in to any sports highlight station now, and catch Rick Nash's game winning goal against Phoenix last night. Phoenix seem to have the bad luck of having ridiculous goals scored on them (Alex Ovechkin on Paul Mara, anyone?)
The Ovechkin goal came on January 16th, 2007. Nash's goal: January 17th, 2008. I can't wait for January 18th, 2009 already...someone better schedule the Coyotes for a home game that night!