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Atlanta at Carolina

Hurricanes keep picking up points, Samsonov helps with double

CBSSports.com wire reports
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RALEIGH, N.C. -- Sergei Samsonov's backhanders kept the Carolina Hurricanes moving forward under new coach Paul Maurice.

Samsonov scored two goals with his backhand and added an assist to lead Carolina past the Atlanta Thrashers, 3-1 on Wednesday.

Joe Corvo also scored after Samsonov snapped out of a two-goals-in-10-games slump for the Hurricanes. They have won five of eight while picking up points in nine of the 13 games they skated in the month since Maurice began his second stint as their coach.

"We're still on the bench kind of deciding where to turn the screws, because it's January, not September," Maurice said. "We're still trying to find our way with this team because of where we are in the season, but I think we're pretty pleased overall. December, I think, was fruitful. We probably played a little better than our record, but we also played a lot of playoff teams."

Atlanta probably won't be among them. Ilya Kovalchuk scored to end the longest goal drought of his career, and Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots, but they couldn't prevent the Thrashers from losing their fourth straight.

The NHL's second-worst team is 5-14-3 since capping a franchise-record-tying five-game winning streak with a mid-November home-and-home sweep of the Hurricanes.

"It's a loss," Thrashers coach John Anderson said. "We try to do things, and if it doesn't work, it doesn't work."

Cam Ward made 20 saves -- and stopped the final 18 shots he faced -- behind a defense that had its forechecking unit clicking and didn't allow many quality scoring chances.

"Early on in the season, we seemed to be giving up a lot of (odd-man rushes)," Ward said. "Now, we're going consistently, each and every game, not giving up many. Obviously, that's an improvement -- simplifying it in our own zone, making it easy on everybody else and communicating."

Samsonov set up the sequence that produced his go-ahead goal late in the second period by taking the puck off Atlanta defenseman Zach Bogosian's stick in the corner. The Hurricanes kept it in the zone, Tuomo Ruutu sent a wrist shot off Lehtonen's pads and Samsonov swooped across to backhand the rebound past the sprawling goalie to make it 2-1.

Corvo then made it a two-goal game when he scored on a power play midway through the third, skating down the right side and blasting the puck past Lehtonen.

"There were a couple of bad bounces," Anderson said. "We had a turnover on the second goal. The third goal was a misread with Corvo coming down too fast. We made changes. We tried some different things. We cut our shots way back, but the result is the same -- whether you lose by 10 or two or one, it doesn't really matter."

Earlier, Samsonov tied it with 24.8 seconds left in the first period when he beat Lehtonen with a falling-down backhand from point-blank range that sneaked under the crossbar.

"I was really close to the goal, and I just tried to buy as much time as I could and keep going past the net and see if I could get the hole," Samsonov said. "I ended up having just enough time to do that."

That came after Kovalchuk -- who hadn't scored a goal in nine games -- put the Thrashers up 1-0 midway through the first on the second shot they put on Ward. With Ruutu 39 seconds into a charging minor, Bryan Little dropped the puck to Kovalchuk, and he skated into the left circle before whipping a hard wrist shot past Ward for his 12th goal but first since Dec. 12 against Boston.

"We lose again, so it really doesn't do anything," Kovalchuk said.

Notes

  • Kovalchuk's goal was Atlanta's seventh in five games on the power play.
  • Carolina D Frantisek Kaberle, who cleared waivers earlier in the week, remained in the lineup because D Niclas Wallin was out with an ankle injury.
  • Little went without a goal for the first time in five games, yet extended his points streak to five.
  • Carolina C Eric Staal had an assist, giving him 38 points in 34 games against Atlanta -- his most against any opponent.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Sergei Samsonov manages to lift a backhander past Kari Lehtonen despite being pushed. (Getty Images)
Sergei Samsonov manages to lift a backhander past Kari Lehtonen despite being pushed. (Getty Images)
Scoreboard
Atlanta (12-21-5)1001
Carolina  (18-15-5) «1113
Three Stars
S. Samsonov
CAR


Goals: 2
Assist(s): 1
J. Corvo
CAR


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0
T. Ruutu
CAR


Goals: 0
Assist(s): 1

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Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
10:23Power Play - Ilya Kovalchuk (12), Snap Shot. Assist: Little, White
19:35Sergei Samsonov (6), Backhand Shot. Assist: Staal, Babchuk
2ND PERIOD
16:49Sergei Samsonov (7), Backhand Shot. Assist: Ruutu
3RD PERIOD
07:14Power Play - Joe Corvo (6), Slap Shot. Assist: Samsonov
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
04:49Valabik, 2 min, Holding
09:44Ruutu, 2 min, Charging
2ND PERIOD
08:20Boulton, 2 min, Roughing
12:57Pitkanen, 2 min, Elbowing
3RD PERIOD
02:04Samsonov, 2 min, Tripping
05:53Havelid, 2 min, Hooking
17:46Crabb, 2 min, Boarding
19:21Ruutu, 2 min, Slashing
Shots On Goal
 123T
Atlanta58821
Carolina1012628
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Kari Lehtonen59:21253
Cam Ward60:00201
Power Play Conversions
Power Play
Atlanta1-for-4
Carolina1-for-4
Game Information
Attendance - 18137
Referees - Steve Kozari, Brad Meier
Linesmen - Jean Morin, Jonny Murray
 
Other Games
Colo 1 Final
Pho 3
Colu 2 Final
Ana 0
Fla 2 Final
NYI 4
NJ 2 Final
Dal 4
Edm 4 Final
Cal 6
SJ 2 Final
OT
Min 3