A night after scoring a career-high four goals against Tampa Bay, Kovalchuk had two more goals to help the Thrashers set a franchise scoring record in a 9-0 victory over Southeast Division-leading Carolina on Saturday night.
"Kovalchuk started us again with another of his rockets," Atlanta coach Bob Hartley said. "Then we just kept building and they got into penalty problems and we took advantage of them."
The Thrashers, who broke the team mark of eight goals, snapped Carolina's franchise-record winning streak at nine games. It was Carolina's first loss since falling in overtime at Toronto on Oct. 20 and its first loss of the season at home.
Atlanta scored on its first two shots, with Kovalchuk and Scott Mellanby beating Martin Gerber. Gerber, who had two shutouts in his previous three games, was pulled after Mellanby's goal with 9:03 left in the period.
The loss was the worst for the Hurricanes since the team moved from Hartford. Mike Dunham played the first period in goal for Atlanta and stopped all five shots he faced before being relieved by Adam Berkhoel with a 5-0 lead at the start of the second period. Dunham left for precautionary reasons because of a sore groin.
Kovalchuk opened the scoring a with a low slap shot from just inside the blue line at 8:25 of the first. Mellanby made it 2-0 at 10:57.
Cam Ward relieved Gerber with the Hurricanes down 2-0. But Ward didn't fare much better because of a soft defensive effort in front of him, according to Carolina coach Peter Laviolette.
"It's not the goalies," Laviolette said. "It was the team. We lost tonight. Let's leave it at that."
Bobby Holik, Jim Slater and Kovalchuk rounded out Atlanta's first-period scoring for a 5-0 lead. In the second period, Marian Hossa and Greg de Vries scored. Serge Aubin and Peter Bondra scored in the third.
"Sometimes that happens," Bondra said. "I know how it feels to lose eight or nine to nothing. It can be frustrating but it was good for us. This was a team that was hot the last nine games. It seemed like any puck we touched went our way."
Marc Savard had four assists for Atlanta and became Atlanta's leading scorer with 24 points.
Atlanta survived a 5-on-3 power play after Jaroslav Modry and Niclas Havelid were called for hooking penalties in the first two minutes of the first period.
"The turning point was the 5-on-3 that we killed early," Hartley said. "If they scored on that they're a confident team and they would have built on that goal. Our penalty killing has been very good and we got some saves from Dunham on that 5- on-3."
Carolina was held to a season-low 19 shots and committed a season-high 17 penalties for 53 penalty minutes. The Thrashers were 4-of-13 with the man advantage.
Notes: Carolina was shut out at home for the first time since losing 3-0 to Columbus on March 2, 2004 ... Atlanta had its first shutout on the road since March 27, 2004, against Florida. ... Atlanta, which outshot the Hurricanes 36-19, has outshot seven of its last nine opponents. ... Carolina's Eric Staal was held pointless for the first time in 10 games.
|Ilya Kovalchuk (10) ASST: Marian Hossa (13), Marc Savard (15)|
1 - 0 ATL
|Scott Mellanby (2) ASST: Marian Hossa (14)|
2 - 0 ATL
|PPG - Bobby Holik (4) ASST: Marc Savard (16), Peter Bondra (10)|
3 - 0 ATL
|Jim Slater (2) ASST: Niclas Havelid (7)|
4 - 0 ATL
|PPG - Ilya Kovalchuk (11) ASST: Marc Savard (17), Vyacheslav Kozlov (11)|
5 - 0 ATL
|Marian Hossa (9) ASST: Marc Savard (18), Serge Aubin (3)|
6 - 0 ATL
|PPG - Greg De Vries (2) ASST: Vyacheslav Kozlov (12), Peter Bondra (11)|
7 - 0 ATL
|PPG - Serge Aubin (3) ASST: Jaroslav Modry (4), Greg De Vries (11)|
8 - 0 ATL
|Peter Bondra (9) ASST: Jim Slater (2)|
9 - 0 ATL
|Jaroslav Modry Hooking against Erik Cole|
|Niclas Havelid Hooking against Erik Cole|
|Bobby Holik Hi-sticking against Bret Hedican|
|Niklas Nordgren Hooking against Vyacheslav Kozlov|
|Jesse Boulerice Hooking against Scott Mellanby|
|Erik Cole Tripping against Vyacheslav Kozlov|
|Serge Aubin Tripping against Oleg Tverdovsky|
|Radim Vrbata Hooking against Peter Bondra|
|Mike Commodore Cross checking against Andy Sutton|
|Marc Savard Hooking against Erik Cole|
|Garnet Exelby Cross checking against Radim Vrbata|
|Rod Brind'Amour Hooking against Marian Hossa|
|Jesse Boulerice Fighting (maj) against Eric Boulton|
|Jesse Boulerice Unsportsmanlike conduct against Eric Boulton|
|Eric Boulton Fighting (maj) against Jesse Boulerice|
|Scott Mellanby Charging against Jesse Boulerice|
|Kevyn Adams Roughing against Garnet Exelby|
|Kevyn Adams Unsportsmanlike conduct against Garnet Exelby|
|Justin Williams Tripping against Jim Slater|
|Mike Commodore Roughing against Andy Sutton|
|Mike Commodore Misconduct (10 min) against Andy Sutton|
|Scott Mellanby Hi-sticking against Bret Hedican|
|Scott Mellanby Hi-sticking against Bret Hedican|
|Erik Cole Hi-sticking against Vyacheslav Kozlov|
|Matt Cullen Hooking against Garnet Exelby|
|Jesse Boulerice Roughing against Garnet Exelby|
|Jesse Boulerice Misconduct (10 min)|
|Garnet Exelby Roughing against Justin Williams|
|SA: 5||TOI: 20:00|
|Saves: 5||EV: 2 - 2|
|PIM: 0||PP: 3 - 3|
|SV%: 1.000||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 14||TOI: 39:56|
|Saves: 14||EV: 8 - 8|
|PIM: 0||PP: 5 - 5|
|SV%: 1.000||SH: 1 - 1|
|SA: 3||TOI: 10:53|
|Saves: 1||EV: 1 - 3|
|PIM: 0||PP: 0 - 0|
|SV%: .333||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 33||TOI: 48:51|
|Saves: 26||EV: 11 - 14|
|PIM: 0||PP: 13 - 17|
|SV%: .788||SH: 2 - 2|