Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series tied 2-2

Game 1: Tuesday, November 26th
Game 2: Wednesday, January 15th
Game 3: Tuesday, February 4th
Game 4: Thursday, March 13th

Jets 2

(5-14-1, 12 pts)

Canadiens 3

(10-8-0, 24 pts)

7:30 PM ET, November 26, 2002

Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

1 2 3 T
WPG 0 1 12
MTL 0 2 13

P. Traverse (Canadiens - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

S. Koivu (Canadiens - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

D. Heatley (Jets - LW): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

Theodore steals spotlight in Habs' victory

MONTREAL (AP) -- The Atlanta Thrashers' improved goaltending still left them short of a win.

Byron Dafoe

Doug Gilmour, Jan Bulis and Saku Koivu scored to ruin Byron Dafoe's debut with Atlanta, and the Montreal Canadiens beat the Thrashers 3-2 Tuesday night.

"Obviously it's disappointing the fact that we got a loss but I felt that I was seeing the puck pretty well tonight, and for my first game in six months, I'm pretty pleased with the way I felt,'' Dafoe said.

Dafoe, an unrestricted free agent who signed with Atlanta on Nov. 20, made 24 saves in his first game since the Canadiens eliminated Boston in the first round of the playoffs last spring.

"I thought Dafoe was excellent,'' Thrashers coach Curt Fraser said. "He gave us a chance to compete to win in this game and that's what we're looking for out of our goaltending.''

Atlanta lost its third in a row, and fifth in six games.

Dafoe's play drew praise from Montreal goalie Jose Theodore, who stopped 25 of 27 shots.

"He looked pretty good for a guy who missed training camp and the first 20 games,'' said Theodore, who made a glove save on Marc Savard's shot from the slot 51 seconds into the third period to protect a 2-1 lead.

Koivu scored his ninth goal moments later as the Canadiens went on to win their fourth in six games to end a two-game losing streak.

"The points are big,'' Koivu said. "Atlanta's record is not the best but they're working hard and they've been playing better lately. I thought they played well defensively.

"I don't think it was a pretty game. Not a lot of good things happened but we played well defensively.''

Gilmour scored his second of the season 5:40 into the second to open the scoring and Bulis got his fourth goal at 9:07 to put Montreal up 2-0.

Atlanta's Vyacheslav Kozlov scored late in the second and assisted on Daniel Tjarnqvist's goal which cut the lead to one with 14:42 remaining.

Savard, who assisted on both goals, left midway through the third with a groin injury and did not return.

After Atlanta outshot Montreal 7-6 in a scoreless first period, Dafoe stuck out his right leg to make a pad save on defenseman Craig Rivet's shot from the right point early in the second.

Unfortunately for the Thrashers' goalie, the rebound went right to Gilmour, who fired the puck into an open right side.

Dafoe also had little chance on Montreal's second goal 3:27 later as Bulis scored into a wide open net after Dafoe stopped Yanic Perreault's shot from the edge of the crease.

Kozlov drew Atlanta to within 2-1 with 3:11 left in the second as he scored his fifth of the season on a power play.

Koivu restored the Canadiens' two-goal lead moments after Theodore's save on Savard. The Montreal captain took Richard Zednik's pass and cut across the goalmouth past Dafoe's sprawling attempt before putting the puck into an open net 1:55 into the third.

Tjarnqvist scored his second of the season at 5:18 to draw the Thrashers to within one.

Game notes

Atlanta entered the game with a league-worst 3.80 goals-against-average. Pasi Nurminen was 5-5-1 with a 3.41 GAA in 14 games and Milan Hnilicka was 0-9-0 with a 4.16 GAA in 11 games. ... Theodore, who allowed all seven goals in a 7-3 loss to Carolina on Saturday, made his second straight start after missing two games because of a left hip flexor injury. He entered with a 3.61 GAA and .882 save percentage through his first 12 games.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press