Canadiens acquire defenseman Sopel from Thrashers

MONTREAL (Reuters) - The Montreal Canadiens added some depth and experience for a playoff push by acquiring defenseman Brent Sopel from the Atlanta Thrashers, the team said Thursday.

The Canadiens also received forward prospect Nigel Dawes in the deal while shipping forward Ben Maxwell and a fourth round pick in this year's draft to Atlanta.

Sopel, who helped the Chicago Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup last season, has just two goals and five assists this year but is recognized as a top shot blocker and penalty killer, filling two holes in the Montreal lineup left by injuries to Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges.

Vancouver's sixth round pick in the 1995 draft, Sopel has 44 goals and 218 points in 12 NHL seasons that also included stints with the New York Islanders, Los Angeles Kings, Blackhawks and Thrashers.

(Writing by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Steve Ginsburg)