MONTREAL – Cristobal Huet made 37 saves and Michael Ryder and Alexander Perezhogin each ended lengthy goal-scoring droughts, leading the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-1 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday night.

On a night when Montreal honored one of its greatest defensemen, Serge Savard, Huet frustrated a potent Atlanta lineup featuring three of the NHL’s seven top scorers – Marian Hossa, Ilya Kovalchuk and Vyacheslav Kozlov – to record his third straight win.

Ryder scored his first goal in 11 games, netting a power-play tally in the first period. Perezhogin restored the Canadiens’ one-goal lead in the third with his first in nine games.

Radek Bonk scored into an empty net with 1:14 remaining.

Glen Metropolit was credited with the Thrashers’ only goal early in the third when his shot deflected into the net off Canadiens defenseman Sheldon Souray.

Johan Hedberg stopped 28 shots for Atlanta, which extended its season-high losing streak to four games in the wake of its second four-game winning streak.

Montreal, which lost 5-1 in Florida on Thursday to split a four-game road trip, hasn’t lost consecutive games this season.

Savard’s No. 18 was retired by the Canadiens in a 40-minute pregame ceremony. The Hall of Fame defenseman won eight Stanley Cup rings while playing for Montreal from 1966-81, and two more – in 1986 and 1993 – as the team’s general manager.

Ryder opened the scoring on a power play 14:18 in with his first goal since Oct. 26. He jumped on Hedberg’s rebound off Souray’s point shot and drove a slap shot over the Atlanta goalie’s left shoulder from the left circle for his fifth goal.

Huet had no chance on the tying goal 3:30 into the third. Metropolit’s wild shot from the left side struck Souray, who was standing in front of the goalmouth. The puck deflected off the Canadiens defenseman and past Huet into an open right side.

The Canadiens goalie drew cheers from the sold-out crowd of 21,273 moments later when he stopped Kozlov’s backhand.

Perezhogin restored Montreal’s one-goal lead shortly after when he stripped the puck from defenseman Andy Sutton and drove the net. He beat Hedberg for his second goal, first since Oct. 28.

Notes: Scotty Bowman was given a large ovation when he was introduced to speak before Savard. “I don’t ever remember Serge leaving his partner caught in disarray,” said Bowman, Savard’s coach for five Stanley Cup wins with Montreal. … Canadiens LW Guillaume Latendresse assisted on Ryder’s goal. The 19-year-old rookie has three goals and two assists in five games since joining Montreal’s top line after being held without a point through 13 games.

AP-ES-11-18-06 2232EST



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