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Canadian Press
1/8/2007 6:19:20 PM


MONTREAL (CP) - While the Montreal Canadiens stayed home Monday with several players still recovering from a virus, the Atlanta Thrashers took over their rink for a 90-minute practice.

''The Bell Centre ghosts aren't contagious,'' Thrashers coach Bob Hartley quipped when asked if he was worried about the virus spreading to his club.

Atlanta is on a 1-2-2 skid and has blown third-period leads in its last two games, so Hartley wanted his team on the ice ahead of a meeting with the Canadiens on Tuesday night.

Montreal is on a season-high three-game losing streak, which may be due in part to a gastro-intestinal virus that affected several players in the past five days.

The bug first bit the team during a 5-1 loss last Thursday night in Washington, where the Capitals had several players hit by a stomach virus during a four-game losing run in the last week of December.

The Canadiens cancelled practice on Friday because five players had the illness. Two others, forwards Saku Koivu and Guillaume Latendresse, missed a 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers and centre Tomas Plekanec sat out a 3-0 loss Sunday to the New Jersey Devils.

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