Pittsburgh at Atlanta

Penguins 3, Thrashers 2


ATLANTA -- Defenseman Martin Skoula wasn't thinking hat trick. In fact, he had never scored two goals in a game before Saturday.

Skoula scored his goals -- one in each of the first two periods -- and the Pittsburgh Penguins held off the Atlanta Thrashers in a 3-2 victory.

Atlanta scored both goals in the third period, the last by Maxim Afinogenov with 18 seconds left.

"It had never happened for me before. I got lucky. It went in twice," Skoula said.

It was only the third victory in eight games for the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins (15-8), who have been plagued by injuries after opening the season by winning 12 of 15. The Thrashers (10-7-2) fell to 4-5-1 at home.

Evgeni Malkin netted Pittsburgh's other goal.

Skoula, who had scored only one previous goal this season, gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead at 7:38 of the first period. He beat goalie Johan Hedberg with a long shot from mid-ice on the power play.

Skoula made it 2-0 at 7:34 of the second, again on another long blast, easily beating the sprawling Hedberg.

Was he thinking hat trick?

"Not really. I don't think it matters who scores. I'm not in there to score hat tricks," he said.

"I'm happy for him. It's big having a defenseman score two goals," Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said.

"I felt good. I was pretty relaxed. I tried to set the tempo," said Fleury, who had a shutout until Chris Thorburn scored a short-handed goal 9:40 into the third period.

"We haven't had a shutout [this season]. It would have been huge for us. But it's OK. We won. That's all that matters," he said.

"He [Fleury] was solid. We needed that. He made some big saves," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "For the first 40 minutes, that was probably our best game."

Pittsburgh's Maxime Talbot was awarded a penalty shot with 2:26 left in the second period, but missed the net.

"Fleury made some big saves and we hit a few posts," Hedberg said. "This is a game of margins. Some nights you have them and some you don't."

Pittsburgh outshot Atlanta 34-33.

"We could have been down 4-0 in the second period but Moose (Hedberg) kept us in it. We had a lot of chances but Fleury stood up and made some big saves," Thorburn said.

The Penguins, 8-4 on the road, had lost four straight away from home after a 7-0 start on enemy ice. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh's captain and leading scorer with 10 goals and 12 assists, assisted on Skoula's first goal.


Pittsburgh D Brooks Orpik returned after missing four games due to a lower body injury. ... The Penguins were 4-0 against the Thrashers last season and are 27-8-2 overall, including 13-4-2 in Atlanta. ... Afinogenov has six goals and three assists in his last five games.

Copyright 2018 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.
Pittsburgh  (15-8-0) «1203
Atlanta (10-7-2)0022
Three Stars
M. Fleury

Saves: 31
Save Pct.: .939
M. Skoula

Goals: 2
Assist(s): 0
S. Crosby

Goals: 0
Assist(s): 1

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Scoring Summary
07:38Power Play - Martin Skoula (2), Wrist Shot. Assist: Bourque, Crosby
07:34Martin Skoula (3), Slap Shot. Assist: Cooke, Staal
11:46Evgeni Malkin (6), Wrist Shot. Assist: Rupp
09:40Short - Chris Thorburn (2), Tip-In. Assist: Bogosian, Kubina
19:42Maxim Afinogenov (9), Tip-In. Assist: Antropov, Peverley
Penalty Summary
05:45Bogosian, 2 min, Interference
10:43Gonchar, 2 min, Kneeing
07:57Adams, 2 min, Interference
15:20Bourque, 2 min, Tripping
18:14Engelland, 5 min, Fighting
18:14Kane, 5 min, Fighting
06:52Kovalchuk, 5 min, Fighting
06:52Cooke, 5 min, Fighting
06:52Kovalchuk, 2 min, Instigator
06:52Kovalchuk, 2 min, Instigator
06:52Kovalchuk, 10 min, Misconduct
Shots On Goal
Marc-Andre Fleury60:00312
Johan Hedberg57:32313
Game Information
Attendance - 17588
Referees - Rob Martell, Dan Marouelli
Linesmen - Bryan Pancich, Jonny Murray
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