Canadiens 5 – Thrashers 1

The Habs hosted the Atlanta Thrashers on the day of the NHL trade deadline with new number one goalie Carey Price between the pipes and the Thrashers lacking superstar Marian Hossa as he makes his way to Pittsburgh. The first period opened at a fast pace and Price quickly began to prove himself with a few early key saves. Each team killed off a penalty before Maxim Lapierre put the Canadiens up 1-0 with an even strength goal around the midway point of the period.

The Thrashers tied the game early in the second period on the powerplay following a bad play by Roman Hamrlik as Ilya Kovalchuk put a wrist shot past a screened Price. The Habs took a couple of questionable penalties for goaltender interference (Plekanec) and obstruction (Gorges) but they followed up with top-notch penalty killing in order to keep the game tied at one goal apiece. Mike Komisarek came close as he ripped a snapshot off the post late in the second but the puck took a lucky bounce off the skate of Atlanta goalie Kari Lehtonen and it squirted wide of the net after hitting the post.

Chris Higgins gave Montreal a 2-1 lead early in the third off of a beautiful pass from Michael Ryder on the powerplay; the assist marked the 200th career NHL point for Ryder. Only a couple of minutes later Higgins scored his second of the game at even strength to put the Habs up 3-1. Another Atlanta penalty gave the Habs their third powerplay of the third period and this time it was Markov scoring with Higgins and Koivu assisting, giving the Canadiens a commanding 4-1 lead; the goal marked Markov’s 50th point of the season. Seconds later Sergei Kostitsyn walked in at even strength and increased the lead to 5-1 with a perfect wrist shot. The Thrashers managed a couple more shots on Carey Price but the Habs easily held on to finish the game with a 5-1 win.

NOTES: New Jersey lost to Carolina 2-1 in overtime, Ottawa lost 4-0 to Boston and Pittsburgh beat the Islanders 4-2. The Habs remain in 5th position in the East three points behind New Jersey, two behind Pittsburgh and one behind Ottawa for the division lead.

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