It’s tough for a team to end a slump while in the midst of a long stretch on the road, but the Atlanta Thrashers have been able to find some success. They may have a harder time picking up a win in Montreal, however.
The Thrashers look to end their struggles in Montreal and snap the Canadiens’ four-game winning streak when the teams meet on Tuesday night.
Atlanta has gone 3-2-0 after starting the season with six straight losses and firing coach Bob Hartley. The Thrashers are 2-2-0 on a season-high seven-game road trip, beating Chicago 3-2 on Saturday night in their last contest.
Two more wins will give Atlanta (3-8-0) a winning road trip, which would be a major achievement considering how bad its season started. The Thrashers, though, have lost two straight in Montreal and are 4-9-1 there all-time.
Atlanta went 1-3-0 overall against Montreal in 2006-07, and the Canadiens have been sharp so far this season. Montreal (6-2-2) is four points behind first-place Ottawa in the Northeast Division.
The Canadiens, however, have given up seven goals in their last two games, and will now be contending with a red-hot Ilya Kovalchuk.
Kovalchuk scored a tiebreaking goal early in the third period and set up Slava Kozlov’s two power-play scores against the Blackhawks. Kovalchuk has three goals and four assists in his last four games.
Kozlov, who had a career-best 80 points last season, avoided a fourth straight game without registering a point.
“We have some real dynamic players on our team and it’s good for us to get them going,” said Thrashers goaltender Johan Hedberg, who has given up just two goals in each of his last two games.
Hedberg has never beaten the Canadiens, going 0-5-0 with a tie and a 2.63 goals-against average in six games. Five of those contests were in Montreal.
The Canadiens are on their worst two-game stretch on defense this season, but their goaltending has generally been strong so far.
Rookie Carey Price faced eight Pittsburgh Penguins in a shootout Saturday night, and had to only make three saves as Montreal won 4-3. Making his third career start, Price got the win after teammate Andrei Markov finally scored in the lengthy shootout.
“That’s part of being a goalie, trying to make yourself look big and try to make them hit a small target,” Price said. “Hopefully they either miss the net or hit me.”
Price and No. 1 goalie Cristobal Huet have combined for a 2.54 GAA. Huet is 3-2-1 with a 2.12 GAA in six games against Atlanta.
Montreal’s offense, meanwhile, has been outstanding during the team’s winning streak, scoring 20 goals. The Canadiens have outscored opponents 14-5 in the first period this season.
Montreal has six players with at least three goals. Alexei Kovalev has found the back of the net five times to lead the team, but he has just one goal and no assists in his last seven games against Atlanta.