The combination of Rich Peverley and Ondrej Pavelec were just too much for the Florida Panthers.
Peverley scored twice and Pavelec continued his brilliant play with 33 saves as the Atlanta Thrashers made it back-to-back road wins with a 3-2 victory at Florida on Wednesday night.
Peverley broke a 1-1 tie by beating Tomas Vokoun with a backhander at 19:29 of the first period, then sent Vokoun to the bench by beating him with a wrist shot 6:27 into the second.
After that, it was Pavelec's time to shine. He stopped 15 of 16 shots in the third period, allowing only a breakaway goal by Chris Higgins with 7:21 remaining.
"He had a great third period," coach Craig Ramsay said of Pavelec. "In the first period he was good and in the third period he was really good. They had a lot of point shots where he had to find it through a crowd. I thought he was really sharp."
The Panthers thought they had tied it with 6:22 left on Bryan McCabe's slap shot. Television replays appeared to show the puck clearly across the goal line, but the play wasn't reviewed.
"It looks like a goal to me," Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said. "I'm baffled as to why the referees, to make certain, wouldn't have gone to the penalty box and asked that they take a look at it or (the war room in) Toronto would have buzzed and taken a second look at it. They look at everything else. I got no explanation from them why, other than they said if it was close, Toronto would have buzzed them and they never got a buzz from Toronto."
Peverley's first goal came on a 5-on-3 power play and gave Atlanta a 2-1 lead with 31 seconds left in the first period. Peverley skated around defenseman Mike Weaver and backhanded his own rebound past Vokoun.
"Peverley did a great job," Ramsay said. "He took the hit to draw the penalty, then took the puck to the net. That was a real good effort from him. Take the penalty, then score. Give him four marks for that one."
His second goal was a long wrist shot over Vokoun's right shoulder on a 2-on-1 break. He had a chance for his first career hat trick later in the period when he came in on a breakaway, but Scott Clemmensen, who relieved Vokoun, gloved Peverley's wrist shot.
"He had some chances," Ramsay said. "On the breakaway, he had a good opportunity against a cold goalie. Their goalie made some really good saves."
Niclas Bergfors also scored to help Atlanta win for only the third time in its last eight games (3-4-1). Andrew Ladd had two assists.
Higgins had a goal and an assist and Stephen Weiss added a goal for Florida. The Panthers lost in regulation for only the second time in nine games (5-2-2).
"We've been playing some good hockey recently," Higgins said. "We didn't play well for most of this game, but we've just got to put in a full 60 minutes again. Took a couple of minutes off, let them take the lead and couldn't recover."
Vokoun came into the game third in the NHL in save percentage, but was pulled after allowing 3 goals on 15 shots.
Atlanta's Niclas Bergfors opened the scoring at 12:52 with some help from a lucky bounce. His wrister on a 2-on-1 break hit the post, caught the back of Vokoun's shoulder and went into the net. Stephen Weiss tied it at 14:16 with his fifth goal in seven games, beating Pavelec with a wrist shot from the slot.
"I thought we did a pretty good job of managing the game," Peverley said. "Obviously, that second (Florida) goal we'd like to have back. We had a pretty good second and keeping the puck in their zone and doing a good job of capitalizing on our chances."
|Niclas Bergfors (8) ASST: Andrew Ladd (20)|
1 - 0 ATL
|Stephen Weiss (13) ASST: Chris Higgins (8), Michael Frolik (18)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Rich Peverley (10) ASST: Nik Antropov (12), Toby Enstrom (28)|
2 - 1 ATL
|Rich Peverley (11) ASST: Andrew Ladd (21), Zach Bogosian (5)|
3 - 1 ATL
|Chris Higgins (8) ASST: Mike Weaver (6), Jason Garrison (4)|
3 - 2 ATL
|Bryan Allen Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Dmitry Kulikov Interference against Patrice Cormier|
|Jason Garrison Hi-sticking against Rich Peverley|
|Niclas Bergfors Tripping against David Booth|
|Rostislav Olesz Interference against Brent Sopel|
|Freddy Modin Hooking against Bryan McCabe|
|Chris Higgins Interference against Johnny Oduya|
|Shawn Matthias Boarding (maj) against Patrice Cormier|