Florida at Atlanta

Kovalchuk's three points help end Thrashers' skid

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- The Thrashers sure could use more big nights from Ilya Kovalchuk.

He scored two goals and added an assist, and Atlanta held off the Florida Panthers 5-3 Sunday night to end a six-game losing streak.

"It seems like when I score, we win," Kovalchuk said.

Kovalchuk scored both goals -- his fourth and fifth -- and assisted on Bryan Little's sixth goal in the second period, giving the Thrashers a 4-1 lead. Erik Christiansen assisted on both of Kovalchuk's goals.

The Panthers made it close when Nathan Horton scored at 18:20 of the second period and Noah Welch got his first goal of the season 3:17 into the final period.

"We still gave up too many opportunities," said Kovalchuk, who scored 52 goals last season and has 259 in his six-plus seasons with Atlanta.

"We need to make sure we play defense first. We gave up two soft goals," he said.

Atlanta's Todd White scored an empty-net goal with 44 seconds remaining to seal the victory. White's third goal came as he flipped the puck from in front of his net nearly the length of the ice into the middle of the Panthers' goal.

The Thrashers hadn't won since Oct. 18, a 3-2 shootout victory over Buffalo. Atlanta (3-7-2) is 3-3 at home.

Kovalchuk's first goal came at 5:05 when he beat Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun from in close, giving Atlanta a 2-0 lead before David Booth scored for the Panthers on a power play. Booth got his fourth goal by poking a wraparound shot past goalie Ondrej Pavelec with 6:47 gone in the second.

It was the first start for rookie Pavelec, who was starting in place of ailing Kari Lehtonen. The 21-year-old was recalled Saturday from Chicago of the AHL and played the final period in a 6-1 loss at New Jersey. He stopped all six shots in that game after Johan Hedberg gave up six goals in the first two periods.

"The guys in front of me played great and did a good job and that's why we won," said Pavelec, who stopped 18 of 21 shots. "We played more defensive."

Kovalchuk made it 3-1 with a power-play score when he stickhandled past three Panthers before flipping the puck past Vokoun and into the upper right corner of the net as he was falling at the 10:39 mark.

"You have to finish your play," Kovalchuk said.

Little then raced and beat Vokoun to the puck from about 10 feet in front of the goal, easily scoring into a wide-open net for a 4-1 lead at the 17-minute mark.

"When you don't come ready to play, that's what you get," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. "I can live playing 1-0, and 2-1 games if that's what we need to win. There is no excuse for not showing up ready to go to work."

Horton made it 4-2 when he scored his fourth goal from in front 1:20 later.

Slava Kozlov gave Atlanta a 1-0 lead with 9 seconds remaining in the opening period, knocking in his sixth goal by rebounding a shot from Garnet Exelby past Vokoun, who was falling backward after the puck hit him in the chest. It was Kozlov's third goal in three games.

Notes

  • Pavelec, recalled from Chicago of the AHL on Friday, started in place of ailing Kari Lehtonen, who was a scratch along with F Brett Sterling.
  • The Thrashers outshot Florida 15-4 in the opening period.
  • White played in his 500th NHL game.
  • Florida D Jay Bouwmeester played in his 400th game and C Kamil Kreps took part in his 100th.
  • This was the Panthers' second of five straight road games. They are 1-4-1 away from home.
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Ilya Kovalchuk gets the Thrashers back in the game with two goals in the second period. (AP)
Ilya Kovalchuk gets the Thrashers back in the game with two goals in the second period. (AP)

Scoreboard
Florida (4-6-1)0213
Atlanta  (3-7-2) «1315
Three Stars
I. Kovalchuk
ATL


Goals: 2
Assist(s): 1
E. Christensen
ATL


Goals: 0
Assist(s): 2
T. Enstrom
ATL


Goals: 0
Assist(s): 1
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
19:51Slava Kozlov (6), Wrist Shot. Assist: Exelby, White
2ND PERIOD
05:05Ilya Kovalchuk (4), Wrist Shot. Assist: Christensen, Williams
06:47Power Play - David Booth (4), Backhand Shot. Assist: Bouwmeester
10:39Power Play - Ilya Kovalchuk (5), Snap Shot. Assist: Christensen, Enstrom
17:00Bryan Little (6), Wrist Shot. Assist: Kovalchuk
18:20Nathan Horton (4), Snap Shot. Assist: Stewart, Cullimore
3RD PERIOD
03:17Noah Welch (1), Tip-In. Assist: Olesz, McLean
19:16Todd White (3), Empty Net, Unassisted.
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
10:30Belak, 2 min, High-Sticking
14:44Zednik, 2 min, Hooking
17:50Zednik, 2 min, Hooking
2ND PERIOD
06:16Reasoner, 2 min, Hooking
09:31Kreps, 2 min, Tripping
19:12Christensen, 2 min, Slashing
3RD PERIOD
10:44Reasoner, 2 min, Hooking
Shots On Goal
 123T
Florida411621
Atlanta159731
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Tomas Vokoun58:59264
Ondrej Pavelec59:52183
Power Play Conversions
Power Play
Florida1-for-3
Atlanta1-for-4
Game Information
Attendance - 10584
Referees - Stephane Auger, Greg Kimmerly
Linesmen - Brian Murphy, Tony Sericolo
 
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