Canadiens end 3-game goal drought, beat Thrashers

Roman Hamrlik and Mathieu Darche scored 11 seconds apart in the first period to end Montreal's three-game goal drought and the Canadiens beat the Atlanta Thrashers 3-1 Tuesday night.

Hamrlik scored Montreal's first goal in 10 days 12:56 in to end a 199-minute, 1-second scoring drought. That goal had not even been announced when Darche made it 2-0 at 13:07, to the delight of the sold-out crowd of 21,273.

Carey Price made 27 saves for Montreal, losing a shutout bid 8:35 into the third on a goal by Nik Antropov.

Andrei Kostitsyn scored into an empty net with 1:20 remaining.

Price had allowed eight goals and been pulled once during the Canadiens' three-game losing streak, during which Montreal was outscored 11-0 while enduring three straight blank sheets for the first time in over 61 years.

The Canadiens are sixth in the Eastern Conference with 89 points, two ahead of the New York Rangers.

Ondrej Pavelec stopped 28 shots for Atlanta, which is 11th in the East with 76 points. The Thrashers, who have six games remaining, are nine points behind Buffalo for the eighth and final playoff spot.

Montreal had been shut out in consecutive games by Buffalo, Boston and Washington since an 8-1 win in Minnesota on March 20, the Canadiens' highest-scoring game in three years.

The frustration continued early as Pavelec stopped Michael Cammalleri on a breakaway 7:11 in and Montreal defenseman James Wisniewski's slap shot hit the left post at the end of a power-play opportunity midway through the opening period.

Hamrlik finally delivered the Canadiens' first goal in four games when he crashed the crease to put home his own rebound 12:56 in.

Montreal was shut out in four straight games in February 1928.

Darche made it a 2-0 lead 11 seconds later when he beat Pavelec from the goalmouth with a quick shot off Scott Gomez's feed from behind the net.

Eric Boulton cut Montreal defenseman Hal Gill on the corner of his right eye with a high stick on the play that led to Antropov's goal 8:35 into the third.

Antropov left the puck for Boulton inside the Canadiens blue line and crossed over to the middle of the ice. Boulton's stick came up and cut Gill as he played the puck, and the Thrashers forward carried on toward the net while the Montreal defenseman scrambled to follow while putting his glove to his bloodied face.

Boulton passed to Antropov, who tucked the puck past Price to draw Atlanta within one.

Referee Bill McCreary, who was given a warm ovation from the Bell Centre crowd just before the opening faceoff when it was announced that he was calling his final game in Montreal, conferred with the other on-ice officials, though ultimately the goal stood and no penalty was assessed.

NOTES: Thrashers RW Chris Thorburn fought with Montreal's Travis Moen late in the first. ... Boulton got a misconduct penalty when teammate Zach Bogosian was called for cross-checking 13:52 into the second. ... Canadiens players shook hands with McCreary at the end of the game.