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Atlanta Thrashers 0, New York Islanders 4 FINAL

NHL.com @NHL

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- The New York Islanders figured out the perfect strategy to beat the Atlanta Thrashers: Don't grab a two-goal lead until late in the game.

Trent Hunter snapped a scoreless tie with 8:45 left to propel the Islanders to a 4-0 victory Saturday night over the Thrashers.

Atlanta has earned points in eight games this season in which the Thrashers trailed by two goals.

"We had some chances early and didn't take advantage of them," Atlanta goalie Pasi Nurminen said. "They had some chances late, and scored. That's why they won the game."

Garth Snow stopped 18 shots for his first shutout of the season, and Shawn Bates, Alexei Yashin and Michael Peca also scored for the Islanders, 3-0-0-1 following a seven-game losing streak.

The surprising Thrashers, who lead the Southeast Division, had their four-game winning streak snapped.

"We battled hard and we battled well," Atlanta coach Bob Hartley said. "I felt we deserved a better fate than this."

The Islanders' recent slide, when they lost 10 of 12 games, started with a home loss to Atlanta on Nov. 8. New York blew a two-goal lead in that one.

Hunter took a pass from Jason Blake on the left side, moved in on Pasi Nurminen, and scored when the goalie missed on a poke check.

"I just tried to keep it on the ice, since a defenseman was draped all over me," Hunter said.

Bates added his seventh goal at 14:00 on a close-in wrist shot. It was Snow's 16th career shutout.

Hartley and the rest of the Thrashers believed icing or offsides should've been called.

"We don't think -- there IS icing," Hartley said. "The linesman said a defenseman was nearby. I looked at the tape 10 times, I still don't see a defenseman nearby."

Yashin scored with a wrist shot at 17:14, and Peca added his first goal since Nov. 6 when he shot into an empty net with 54.3 seconds left. It was Peca's third of the season and first in 16 games.

Nurminen stopped 25 shots.

Hunter has 11 goals, tying him for the lead among NHL rookies with Vancouver's Jason King.

The best save of the night came in the first period, when Atlanta's Bill Lindsay came out of the penalty box, and was fed for a breakaway. He had Snow beaten to the left side, but Snow -- on his belly -- threw his right leg back against the post to make the save.

"We did a lot of breakaways in practice (Friday), so I was kind of used to it," Snow said. "I won't get many points for style, but the bottom line was the puck was kept out of the net."

Each team hit a goal post in the second period. Atlanta's chance came in the first minute, and Yashin was denied with just over three minutes left.

In their last four games, New York has a win against a lower level team (Chicago), a win after trailing by two goals (Tampa Bay) and lost 1-0 in overtime to the Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils.

Defenseman Janne Niinimaa said that if this game happened during the losing streak, New York might've lost again.

"Probably a week ago, we would have gotten frustrated and made a stupid mistake where we would have given up the first goal," Niinimaa said. "But with the win over Tampa Bay and the way we played the Devils for 60 minutes, it certainly helped our confidence and patience."

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