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Trashers rally from 3 down, but Petrov puts it away

MONTREAL (AP) -- The Montreal Canadiens barely managed to claim
two crucial standings points that earlier seemed to be in the bag.

Oleg Petrov scored a short-handed goal with 1:35 left as the
Canadiens recovered from blowing a three-goal lead for a 5-3
victory Monday night over the Atlanta Thrashers.

Montreal moved into a tie for eighth place in the Eastern
Conference with the New York Rangers, who lost at home to Calgary.
Both teams have 63 points, but the Canadiens have played one fewer
game.

"That's a game that gives coaches gray hairs," Canadiens coach
Michel Therrien said. "A loss tonight would have been a disaster,
especially with the three-goal lead."

With Chad Kilger off for holding, Petrov forced a neutral-zone
turnover and drove to the net before firing a backhander past
goalie Milan Hnilicka 18:25 into the third to break a 3-3 tie.

"That was just an absolutely great play by Petrov," Thrashers
coach Curt Fraser said. "That's one of the prettiest goals you'll
see all year. Unfortunately, it came at a bad time."

Andreas Dackell scored into an empty net with 2.7 seconds
remaining as Montreal won its second in three games.

After falling behind 3-0 just 9:11 in, Atlanta scored twice in
the second. Patrik Stefan scored 4:04 into the third to tie it just
21 seconds after Montreal's Mike Ribeiro failed on a penalty shot.

Ribeiro slipped a backhand through Hnilicka's legs, but the shot
struck the outside of the left post.

Stefan then swept across the Canadiens' goal mouth and tucked a
backhander inside the right post, just past goalie Jose Theodore's
outstretched left skate.

"We were down 3-0 and to come back like that, it was huge,"
Stefan said. "We lost the game, but I think you have to give
credit to our team for the comeback."

Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and an assist in the second as the
Thrashers drew within 3-2. Kovalchuk, the first pick in last year's
draft, leads NHL rookies with 29 goals.

Gino Odjick, Joe Juneau and Yanic Perreault scored first-period
goals for the Canadiens.

Hnilicka stopped 23 of 24 shots after replacing rookie Pasi
Nurminen, who allowed goals to Juneau and Perreault 24 seconds
apart.

Odjick scored his fourth goal of the season at 2:17 to make it
1-0. He redirected Juneau's pass across the goal mouth past
Nurminen.

Juneau made it 2-0 with his fourth goal at 8:47 before Perreault
scored his 20th at 9:11 to chase Nurminen.

"We started off OK for the first two minutes, and then it was
mistake after mistake," Fraser said. "It certainly had nothing to
do with Pasi. We just gave up some real quality chances."

Kovalchuk drove a slap shot past Theodore 8:39 into the second
period. He assisted on Chris Tamer's goal at 19:02 that made it
3-2.

Game notes
Hnilicka was assessed a delay-of-game penalty 4:59 into the
second after he ranged far out of his crease to smother a loose
puck. ... Nurminen stopped 3-of-6 shots. ... Odjick, Juneau and
Perreault had a goal and an assist each in the first.