(Sports Network) - Two teams currently saddled with three-game losing streaks try to put an end to their recent struggles tonight in Montreal, where the Canadiens host the Atlanta Thrashers at the Bell Centre.
Montreal's skid is its longest this season and the club will try to salvage the finale of a three-game homestand. After dropping a 4-3 decision to the New York Rangers on Saturday, the Canadiens were stymied by Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils one night later.
Brodeur made 28 saves to record the 87th shutout of his storied career and Brian Gionta scored two goals to help New Jersey to a 3-0 victory at the Bell Centre.
The Canadiens were blanked for the first time this season and have now dropped five of their last six contests.
Montreal, which owns a 13-6-3 home record for the year, will start up a three- game road trip Thursday in Philadelphia.
Atlanta is also mired in its longest losing stretch of this campaign, although the Thrashers do still hold a comfortable eight-point advantage on second- place Carolina in the Southeast Division standings.
Queasy Canadiens feeling better, hope stomach virus has left the building
Jan 9, 2007, 6:07 PM EST
MONTREAL (CP) - Montreal forward Michael Ryder described the stomach virus that raged through the Canadiens dressing room as one of the hardest things he's ever had to deal with.
"It was devastating," added a much fitter-looking Ryder on Tuesday, the first in the last five days that no Canadien reported sick.
All but the injured Radek Bonk (sore neck) and Steve Begin (sore back) were on the ice for a game-day skate ahead of Tuesday night's meeting with the Atlanta Thrashers.
And while they weren't declaring the epidemic over, many players looked healthier than they have since the bug first bit the team around the time of a 5-1 loss in Washington last Thursday.
Coach Guy Carbonneau, who also caught the virus, said eight or nine players as well as the training staff and other team personnel had fallen sick. Some who didn't have the fever, vomiting or diarrhea simply felt weak. The illness lasts between 24 and 72 hours.
The spread of gastroenteritis was not confined to the Bell Centre, as reports said 29 health care institutions in the city were dealing with the bug, said to be the worst outbreak in 10 years. Similar outbreaks have been reported around the world.
For the Canadiens, it played havoc with the roster and the team's performance as it ran up a season-high three-game losing streak, with defeats Thursday in Washington, Saturday to the New York Rangers and Sunday to the New Jersey Devils.
The entire team was told to stay home Monday while the dressing room, training room and all equipment was washed and sanitized.
"They took everything out," said Carbonneau. "All the equipment, all the gym equipment, the underewear.
"They washed all the sticks. Everything a player can touch, they cleaned."
He was relieved to see the extra energy players had in practice.
"It was fun to hear the players this morning all say they had good breakfasts," he said. " It's not something you can get rid of easily.
"This is the worst I've seen, but hopefully it's passed and we won't have to talk about it. But I'd be surprised if we don't have another one or two guys (get sick) in the next couple of months."
Defenceman Sheldon Souray looked terrible as he played through the weekend games. But he was in a cheerier mood on Tuesday.
"It's like I'm a different human being - it's unbelievable," he said. "Reading in the papers about hospitals and nursing homes hit by the bug. You see it's pretty serious.
"Unless you got it, you probably think 'Hey, just suck it up.' But it's pretty hard to suck up."
The virus struck just as the Canadiens were hitting a rough patch in what had been a strong first half of the NHL season. While sickness can explain some of their losing run, they also know they have to play with tougher with more energy.
The team held a meeting after their skate to go over the missed assignments and other mistakes that cost the team valuable points over the past two weeks.
"We looked at what went wrong and what we can improve," said Carbonneau. "When you go through a slump like this, you have doubts about the system and the things you do.
MONTREAL (CP) - Michael Ryder had two goals and an assist as the Montreal Canadiens ended a three-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers on Tuesday night.
The Canadiens, finally free of a gastro-intestinal virus that raged through their ranks earlier this week, erased a 2-0 deficit with four goals in the final 25 minutes.
Greg de Vries scored in the first period and Brad Larsen scored in the second for Atlanta (24-13-8). But Tomas Plekanec got one back late in the middle frame for Montreal (24-14-5) before Guillaume Latendresse tied the score 51 seconds into the third.
Saku Koivu, who dominated the faceoff circle, won a draw in the Atlanta zone and, two passes later, Ryder scored from the slot for his 12th goal of the season to make it 3-2 at 9:40 of the third.
With 2:47 remaining, Koivu hit Ryder with a pass across the slot for a power-play goal. Koivu earned his 500th career point on the play and got a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 21,273.
The Thrashers, coming off two overtime losses in which they blew third-period leads, are 1-3-2 in their last six games. Their big three shooters Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa and Slava Kozlov had no points.
The Canadiens had more jump in their game and outshot Atlanta 11-8 in the first but fell behind 1-0 when De Vries was left alone coming in from the point to bang in Glen Metropolit's pass in at 13:28.
Larsen was left alone to convert Jean-Pierre Vigier's pass 10:36 into the second.
Plekanec got behind defenceman Braydon Coburn to redirect Mike Johnson's pass at 15:02. It was the Canadiens' first even-strength goal in four games.