MONTREAL — Chris Higgins had two goals and an assist as the Montreal Canadiens scored four times in the first half of the third period in a 5-1 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers on Tuesday night.
Higgins, the subject of trade rumors before Tuesday’s 3 p.m. deadline, scored his 20th goal 2:10 into the third to give Montreal a 2-1 lead. He added his second goal in 2:46 with his 21st goal at 4:56.
Higgins set up Andrei Markov’s power-play goal as the Canadiens increased their lead to 3-1 at 8:17, and Sergei Kostitsyn added Montreal’s fourth goal at 9:04.
Carey Price stopped 26 shots and Maxim Lapierre also scored for the Canadiens, who sent goalie Cristobal Huet to Washington for a second-round pick in the 2009 draft in their only trade of the day.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored his 41st goal in the second for Atlanta, which traded potential unrestricted free agent Marian Hossa to Pittsburgh before the trading deadline.
Kari Lehtonen made 28 saves.
Thrashers general manager and coach Don Waddell had a busy day as he moved behind the bench to see his team drop its fourth in a row after he acquired center Erik Christensen, right wing Colby Armstrong, prospect Angelo Esposito and a first-round pick from Pittsburgh in the trade that sent Hossa and forward Pascal Dupuis to the Penguins.
Lapierre opened the scoring with his fourth goal 12:47 in.
Kovalchuk tied it at 1 when he beat Price for a power-play goal 2:04 into the second.
Higgins put the Canadiens ahead for good early in the third when he tapped in Michael Ryder’s pass across the crease at the right post for the first of Montreal’s two power-play goals in the third.
He made it 3-1 moments later and had a hand in the Canadiens’ third goal of the period at 8:17 when he put a pass from the right side to Markov, who scored his 13th goal into an open left side.