MONTREAL – Ilya Kovalchuk and Bryan Little scored in a shootout as the Atlanta Thrashers pulled out a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.
They became the first NHL players to beat rookie goaltender Carey Price in a shootout. Price stopped all eight shooters in Montreal’s win in Pittsburgh Saturday night.
Saku Koivu had the lone shootout goal for Montreal.
The Canadiens, whose four-game winning run ended, needed a power-play goal from Chris Higgins with 1:58 left in regulation time to send the game into overtime.
Goals 57 seconds apart by Eric Perrin and Slava Kozlov late in the second period had put Atlanta ahead in a game it dominated for the first 40 minutes.
It was Atlanta’s fourth win in six games since general manager Don Waddell replaced the fired Bob Hartley behind the bench.
Alex Kovalev scored in the middle period for Montreal, which needed a fine effort by Price in his first start at home to keep it close.
Atlanta outshot Montreal 33-29 in regulation but the teams ended up even at 33-33. The Canadiens drew some braying early from the 21,273 Bell Centre spectators for one of their weakest efforts so far this season.
Price shone as the Thrashers came out strong and outshot the Canadiens 13-2 in a scoreless first period. The rookie was particularly sharp in making quick saves on Kovalchuk and Little 13 minutes in.
Montreal scored on its fourth shot of the game as Kovalev wristed a low shot from the off wing past Johan Hedberg on a power play 8:10 into the second period.
Canadiens mistakes then led to a pair of goals by Atlanta.
A miscommunication between Price and Andrei Markov over which would play the puck at the side of the net led to Markov accidentally tipping the puck into the crease where Perrin buried it at 16:16.
Montreal defenceman Josh Gorges made the second mistake with a backhand pass across his own zone. Kozlov grabbed it, went in alone and scored on a deke to the backhand.
The Thrashers killed off a 52-second two-man Montreal advantage late in the third, but when Todd White was sent off for hooking at 17:50, Higgins was on the doorstep to tie the game.
Notes – In the pre-game ceremony, Roman Hamrlik, Bryan Smolinski and Alex Kovalev were presented silver sticks by NHL vice-president Colin Campbell and Canadiens legend Henri Richard to mark the 1,000th game all three players have reached this season. . . Patrice Brisebois played his 800th game as a Canadien. . . Steve McCarthy, who is minus-12, Brett Sterling and Brad Larsen were scratched for Atlanta. Andrei Kostitsyn sat for Montreal, while Francis Bouillon (left shoulder injury) and Garth Murray (broken ankle) are injured.