MONTREAL – Ondrej Pavelec weathered a storm of shots to give the Atlanta Thrashers one of his best performances this season.
Pavelec made 47 saves and Dustin Byfuglien scored an overtime-winner as Atlanta downed the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 in a Sunday afternoon game at the Bell Centre.
Atlanta’s goaltender faced 16 shots in the third period, as Montreal hit a season high for shots on goal with 50 in the game.
“Yeah a lot of shots, you know they play like that—shooting the puck, driving to the net and trying to tip the puck,”said Pavelec.“It was pretty good in our zone, it’s great that we found a way to win.”
Rich Peverley, Andrew Ladd and Evander Kane also scored for Atlanta (21-15-6), which held a 3-2 lead in the third period before Brian Gionta tied it with under five minutes left to play.
“I thought we played an all right game, we let them back every time we scored,”said Byfuglien.“In overtime we got a power play and capitalized on it.”
Tomas Plekanec and P.K Subban also scored for the Canadiens (21-17-6), who have dropped four of their last five games against Atlanta.
“There’s some good things to build off in this game and the game before,”said Gionta.“We’ve got to stay positive and use those to our benefit. If you get 50 shots on net you have a pretty good chance to win.”
Carey Price had trouble between the pipes only stopping 24 of 28 shots.
“I’m not happy,”said Price.“I’ve got to play better and it starts from me. I thought we played well enough to win. I’m not happy about losing, that’s it.”
Atlanta got the first goal at 6:20 of the first period. Peverley took a pass from Tobias Enstrom and made a quick deke before slipping in through Price’s legs.
After controlling the play for most of the period, Montreal scored on its first power-play opportunity when Benoit Pouliot drew a holding penalty on Brent Sopel at 17:36. It only took the Canadiens 20 seconds with the man advantage, as James Wisniewski sprung Plekanec on a breakaway who went high glove on Pavelec.
Kane regained the lead for the Thrasher with his 13th goal of the season, throwing the puck at Price on a wrap around and sneaking it between the post and his right pad. Patrice Cormier picked up his first NHL point on the goal in his fourth game.
The Canadiens evened things up with their second power-play goal of the game at 10:25 of the second. Subban fired a one-timer through traffic past Pavelec.
Atlanta got its lead back again with only 15 seconds remaining in the period. Enstrom fired a shot on net from a bad angle, and the rebound popped out to Ladd who tucked it into the open net.
Montreal scored the equalizer with 5:43 seconds left in the game when Gionta pounced on a loose puck at the top of the crease and beat Pavelec who had no chance on the play.
James Wisniewski picked up his second assist in his first home game in Montreal since being acquired from the New York Islanders last week.
“Sold out crowd, Sunday afternoon, you can’t beat it,” said Wisniewski. “The excitement, the atmosphere of the crowd and the energy … you feed off that.”
Byfuglien scored at 3:43 of overtime during a power play while Subban was in the penalty box for hooking.
“You develop experience and I think those things happen, especially during a four-on-four situation,”said Canadiens’coach Jacques Martin about Subban’s overtime penalty.
The Canadiens don’t play until Thursday night when they will host Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Montreal has now lost 9 of 12.
“It’s been a tough stretch since a couple weeks before Christmas, it will be nice to get some time to regroup and get away from the rink,”said Gionta.
Atlanta heads to Florida to take on the Panthers on Wednesday.
Notes: The Canadiens haven’t won back-to-back games since Dec.4-7. … Zack Bogosian returned to the Thrasher’s lineup after missing one game. Jim Slater didn’t play because of a concussion. Nik Antropov was activated from IR and Tim Stapleton was sent down to the American Hockey League. … David Desharnais made his season debut for Montreal and played on a line with Benoit Pouliot and Mathieu Darche. … Price was the recipient of the Molson Cup for the month of December.