Kari Lehtonen made 25 saves and the Atlanta Thrashers had one of their strongest defensive efforts of the season, beating Montreal 2-0 on Friday night to extend the Canadiens' road struggles.

Bryan Little scored on a put-back with 2:32 left in the opening period, and Lehtonen protected the lead with his second shutout of the season.

Rich Peverley added an empty-net goal with 35 seconds left. Ilya Kovalchuk had assists on each of the goals.

The Thrashers helped Lehtonen by allowing only 12 shots on goal in the first two periods.

Montreal suffered only its second shutout loss of the season.

The Canadiens, attempting to protect their position in a tight Eastern Conference playoff race, suffered their second straight road loss to fall to 2-11-1 in their last 14 away from Montreal. The poor road stretch began Jan. 20 with a 4-2 loss in Atlanta.

Montreal's three-game trip began with a 5-1 loss at Buffalo on Tuesday night. Coach Guy Carbonneau said he was concerned his players didn't stand up for each other in the loss, and he challenged his players with a grueling practice on Thursday.

There was no shortage of players defending teammates in a physical game.

The first pair of roughing calls, on Montreal's Tom Kostopoulos and Atlanta's Boris Valabik, came only 3:30 into the game. More roughing calls came less than three minutes later, followed by the first 5-minute penalties for fighting with 6:05 remaining in the period.

With Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak out with the flu, Carey Price made 26 stops but fell to 0-6-1 in his last seven games.

Notes: Atlanta F Eric Perrin did not return after suffering an undisclosed injury in the second period. ... Montreal's only other shutout loss was a 3-0 defeat at Washington on Nov. 28. ... The Thrashers had 54 penalty minutes in the first two periods, including 10-minute misconducts by Jim Slater, Eric Boulton and Garnet Exelby. ... Slater, Boulton and Montreal's Maxim Lapierre drew 10-minute misconducts for their roles in two fights that stopped play with 7:42 remaining in the second period.

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