Tim Stapleton's goal 1:38 into overtime gave the Thrashers to a 3-2 victory at the RBC Center on Wednesday night that snapped two streaks -- a six-game winless streak on the road and a four-game skid to the Hurricanes.
"We finally did it," said Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who made 35 saves. "(The losing streak) didn't mean we didn't play well against them -- we played really well against them, but we couldn't find a way to win. Finally, we did it tonight, and it's a big win for us."
The win moved the Thrashers within five points of eighth-place Buffalo in the East. The one point gave the Hurricanes 72, the same as the Sabres, but Buffalo has a game in hand.
Carolina overcame an early 2-0 deficit and tied the game when Eric Cole scored on a breakaway with 7:39 remaining in regulation, But after Pavelec stopped Joni Pitkanen on a 3-on-1 break in overtime, Stapleton won it on the return 2-on-1 rush, deflecting Ron Hainsey's feed past Cam Ward's left pad.
"You take your 3-on-1 rush, take your shot at it and then we got hung up there and it's a two-on-one back," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said.
Atlanta coach Craig Ramsay had hoped for a regulation win, but was more concerned with the two points the Thrashers got than the one they allowed the 'Canes to take home.
"We really wanted to get out without giving up an extra point," Ramsay said. "Once they scored that goal, it certainly feels really good."
The Thrashers jumped on the Hurricanes early. Newcomer Rob Schremp snapped a shot past Ward's glove just 3:22 into the game for a 1-0 lead. Tobias Enstrom one-timed Nik Antropov's pass behind Ward at 13:27 for a 2-0 lead.
Carolina cut it to 2-1 at 11:55 of the second period. The puck got caught in Enstrom's skates after a wrist shot from the point by Carolina's Bryan Allen. Troy Bodie controlled the puck in the slot and snapped it past Pavelec's glove for his first goal with the Hurricanes.
"It was good to get on the board," said Bodie, who has 6 goals in 105 NHL games. "You go through the whole season and you wonder if you're going to even get it. It's a big weight off my shoulders."
Cory Stillman then set up Cole's breakaway goal in the third with a perfect pass through the neutral zone.
"(Cole) came off the bench and nobody saw him," Ramsay said. "He got that full-speed pass. Not many guys pass it better than Stillman on a play like that. I could see him loading it up, and I yelled from the bench, but it was too late."
Atlanta star defenseman Dustin Byfuglien missed the game because of a lower-body injury sustained in practice Monday.
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report
|PPG - Rob Schremp (11) ASST: Evander Kane (19), Blake Wheeler (19)|
1 - 0 ATL
|Tobias Enstrom (9) ASST: Nik Antropov (20), Zach Bogosian (10)|
2 - 0 ATL
|Troy Bodie (1) ASST: Bryan Allen (9), Patrick Dwyer (10)|
2 - 1 ATL
|Erik Cole (19) ASST: Cory Stillman (19)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Tim Stapleton (2) ASST: Ron Hainsey (9)|
3 - 2 ATL
|Tuomo Ruutu Hooking against Nik Antropov|
|Eric Boulton Boarding against Jamie McBain|
|Blake Wheeler Closing hand on puck|
|Joni Pitkanen Hooking against Blake Wheeler|
|Blake Wheeler Hooking against Tim Gleason|