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Carolina
Hurricanes
52-22-8
Atlanta
Thrashers
41-33-8

game recap

Thrashers 5, Hurricanes 2

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:51 AM

Associated Press

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Thrashers 5, Hurricanes 2
Carolina Hurricanes 2, Atlanta Thrashers 5

ATLANTA (AP) - Kari Lehtonen felt an emotional lift when the Atlanta Thrashers killed off a 5-minute penalty early in the first period.

"We have guys diving, and I don't have to make that many saves," the Atlanta goaltender said. "I think we dominated almost the whole game, so that's a good sign."

Ilya Kovalchuk had two goals and the Atlanta Thrashers kept their playoff hopes alive with a 5-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night.

Marc Savard also scored on a first-period penalty shot for Atlanta, which snapped a two-game losing streak. The Thrashers are ninth in the Eastern Conference with 78 points, five behind Tampa Bay for the eighth and final playoff spot.

Carolina, which won the Southeast Division after ending Florida's seven-game winning streak on Friday, has lost five of nine.

Lehtonen knew his team's fragile psyche could have cracked when Bobby Holik was ejected with a 5-minute major misconduct for boarding Bret Hedican, who left the game but soon returned.

"It was a must-win tonight, and it was great to get those two points," Lehtonen said. "We need to just keep going like that."

The Thrashers have almost no room for error. With 78 points, they are five behind Tampa Bay and seven back of Montreal and New Jersey. Florida, which beat the Lightning 4-2 Saturday, has 77 points - one more than Toronto.

"It's tough, because if you lose, you obviously lose ground, and if you win, you stay there," Atlanta coach Bob Hartley said. "We just have to keep winning games and hope teams start getting in trouble."

Kovalchuk's 46th goal, at 4:03 of the second, made it 3-0. As Scott Mellanby lost control in a left-circle battle with Craig Adams and Oleg Tverdosky, Kovalchuk picked up the puck as he raced through the top of slot and used a snap shot to beat goaltender Cam Ward.

"The game plan was clear - don't turn the puck over, get it deep and establish the grind," Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said. "We wanted to think we were better than them, and we turned the puck over."

Carolina cut the lead to 3-1 at the 12:34 mark of the second on Matt Cullen's slap shot from top of the slot.

Kovalchuk answered Cullen's goal 56 seconds later. Taking Brad Larsen's pass from the neutral zone, Kovalchuk put the Thrashers ahead 4-1 by beating Ward with a wrister from the right circle.

"The most important thing was to win the game," Kovalchuk said. "We have to play our best hockey and play every game like it is the last game."

Laviolette pulled Ward for Martin Gerber after Slava Kozlov scored his 23rd goal by redirecting a shot past the goalie's glove side.

Cullen had an assist when Rod Brind'Amour beat Lehtonen for a short-handed goal in the final minute of the period to close out the scoring.

"They capitalize on opportunities as good as anyone in the league," Cullen said of Atlanta. "You can't give them any space, and if you do, you're going to pay."

Savard, who had two goals in his last 17 games, earned a penalty shot after Ward extended his stick and knocked him down. Savard lifted the puck over Ward's left shoulder for his 27th goal 11:39 into the game.

Jim Slater's eighth goal made it 2-0 at the 13:51 mark of the first.

Ward, who gave up five goals in a 5-1 loss to Washington on Wednesday, stopped 13 of 18 shots to fall to 13-8-2.

Lehtonen made 35 saves to improve to 19-14-0.

The first period also included a game misconduct and ejection for Carolina's Mike Commodore.

Notes: Savard became the first Thrasher to score a penalty shot in Atlanta. ... The Thrashers improved to 3-7-6 against Carolina at Philips Arena. ... Cullen now has 100 career goals. ... Carolina went 0-for-6 to fall to 5-for-52 on the power play in its last eight games. ... With 89 points, Savard now has one more than Dany Heatley recorded for a single-season franchise record in 2002-03. ... Kovalchuk now has 88 points this season and eight goals in seven games against the Hurricanes.

scoring summary
1st Period
11:39
ATL
PS - Marc Savard (27) ASST: NONE
1 - 0 ATL
13:51
ATL
Jim Slater (8) ASST: Serge Aubin (15), Niclas Havelid (25)
2 - 0 ATL
2nd Period
04:03
ATL
Ilya Kovalchuk (46) ASST: NONE
3 - 0 ATL
12:34
CAR
Matt Cullen (23) ASST: Chad LaRose (12)
3 - 1 ATL
13:30
ATL
Ilya Kovalchuk (47) ASST: Brad Larsen (7)
4 - 1 ATL
14:46
ATL
Vyacheslav Kozlov (23) ASST: Andy Sutton (16), Marian Hossa (46)
5 - 1 ATL
19:06
CAR
SHG - Rod Brind'Amour (29) ASST: Aaron Ward (17), Matt Cullen (22)
5 - 2 ATL
3rd Period
NONE
penalty summary
1st Period
02:53
ATL
Bobby Holik  Boarding (maj) against  Bret Hedican
02:53
ATL
Bobby Holik  Game misconduct against  Bret Hedican
07:46
CAR
Keith Aucoin  Interference against  Kari Lehtonen
14:42
CAR
Mike Commodore  Game misconduct
14:42
CAR
Rod Brind'Amour  Roughing against  Andy Sutton
14:42
ATL
Andy Sutton  Roughing against  Rod Brind'Amour
14:42
ATL
Andy Sutton  Roughing against  Rod Brind'Amour
18:19
CAR
Bret Hedican  Roughing against  Marc Savard
2nd Period
07:31
ATL
Vyacheslav Kozlov  Hi-sticking against  Glen Wesley
08:09
ATL
Serge Aubin  Interference against  Rod Brind'Amour
16:00
ATL
Derek MacKenzie  Tripping against  Keith Aucoin
17:32
CAR
Craig Adams  Hooking against  Greg De Vries
3rd Period
15:01
ATL
Serge Aubin  Hooking against  Kevyn Adams
goalie stats
Martin Gerber
SA: 8TOI: 25:14
Saves: 8EV: 8 - 8
PIM: 0PP: 0 - 0
SV%: 1.000SH: 0 - 0
Cam Ward
SA: 18TOI: 34:46
Saves: 13EV: 8 - 13
PIM: 0PP: 4 - 4
SV%: .722SH: 1 - 1
Kari Lehtonen
SA: 35TOI: 60:00
Saves: 33EV: 27 - 28
PIM: 0PP: 5 - 5
SV%: .943SH: 1 - 2