ATLANTA – Just 13 games into his NHL career, Zach Bogosian is already showing flashes of his potential.
Bogosian, the No. 3 overall draft pick, and Chris Thorburn each had a goal and an assist in the Atlanta Thrashers’ 4-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.
“I am an offensive defenceman,” the 19-year-old said. “I try to jump up in the rush and help things out, but I’ve got to make sure I take care of defence first.”
Even though they’re still tied for the NHL’s second-lowest points total with 39, the Thrashers won their third straight to snap Montreal’s two-game winning streak and spoil the return of Montreal goaltender Carey Price.
The Canadiens, who had won eight of 10 and were 11-2-1 in their previous 14, started with Jaroslav Halak in goal, but coach Guy Carbonneau pulled him after Rich Peverley scored 3:58 into the second and made it 3-0.
Afterward, Carbonneau confirmed that Price, one of four Canadiens who will start in the all-star game Sunday at Montreal, will be in net Wednesday at New Jersey. After missing four games with an ankle injury, Price was pleased to hear Carbonneau’s decision.
“It was nice to get in there,” Price said. “It was pretty close (before) a couple of bad bounces. The fourth goal was a bad bounce. What can you do?”
Bogosian, who was out 28 games with a broken shin, returned Dec. 31 at Carolina, before spending four games in the minors to improve his conditioning. He returned to Atlanta last Friday and has four points in two games.
“We have worked hard the last couple of games,” Bogosian said. “We need to not get a big head and keep things simple. Play every shift like it’s 0-0.”
Bogosian’s goal at 11:50 was initially credited to Thorburn but several minutes later switched to the rookie.
“I just shot the puck on the goal,” Bogosian said. “There were a lot of a lot of people in front, so I shot. I never saw what happened after that.”
Barely one minute after Price entered the game, Montreal was on the power play when Max Pacioretty’s third goal, a backhander from the bottom of the slot, made it 3-1.
Officials allowed Steve Begin’s sixth goal 1:31 later even though the puck bounced off his skate, which appeared to be moving, to cut the lead to 3-2.
“We got two quick ones but couldn’t get the third one,” Canadiens forward Alex Kovalev said. “It’s always tough to play from behind. We just need to focus on our team and our game. We have showed up in the past.”
Erik Christensen opened the scoring 5:04 into the first with his fourth goal, a wrister from the left circle sneaked under Halak’s pads.
Halak, making his ninth straight start, dropped to 11-8-1 after stopping 11 of 14 shots.
Kari Lehtonen made 34 saves to improve to 8-12-2 for the Thrashers.
“They got some good shots to start the third period, but I felt good,” Lehtonen said. “It was a one-goal game at the time, so it was encouraging to make the saves, and we were able to score after that.”
Though Lehtonen and the Thrashers have mostly struggled this season, Carbonneau believes the Atlanta goalie still owns the skills to deliver on the expectations that made him a No. 2 overall draft pick in 2002. Carbonneau, who won three NHL titles as a player with Montreal and Dallas, sees each day how much Price helps the Canadiens.
“Lehtonen saved the game in the end,” Carbonneau said. “I thought Carey Price played well. He was strong, solid and moved well in the net.”
Notes: C Saku Koivu, Montreal’s captain, missed his 17th game with an ankle injury and LW Christopher Higgins his 18th with a sore shoulder. Carbonneau doesn’t expect either to play Wednesday at New Jersey. … C Jim Slater didn’t return for Atlanta after a shoulder injury in the first period. … The Canadiens dropped to 20-10-4 against Atlanta, 9-5-3 at Philips Arena.