SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- The Atlanta Thrashers reacquired Ben Simon this week to
add some toughness. A rare showing of offense rallied his new team to a win.
Simon's first NHL goal tied it in the third period and Vyacheslav Kozlov
then scored 2:57 into overtime to give the Thrashers a 4-3 victory Saturday
night over the Florida Panthers.
Simon, a second-year player, played nine games for Atlanta last season
before signing with Nashville in the offseason. Now he's back.
"I'm pretty happy," he said. "I'm not really a goal scorer. But I'll take
what I can get. It's pretty neat to be able to say you scored in the NHL."
Kozlov scored the game-winner by ripping in a hard slap shot from just
inside the blue line.
The Southeast Division-leading Thrashers, who beat Anaheim on Friday, also
got goals from Jeff Cowan and Shawn McEachern. Atlanta improved to 3-1 against
Florida this season.
Matt Cullen, Byron Ritchie and rookie Nathan Horton scored for the Panthers,
winless in five (0-3-2).
"If we keep playing like this, we'll get some points on the board, so we
can't keep our heads down," Florida goalie Roberto Luongo said. "We've got to
win some games if we want to make the playoffs."
Atlanta's Pasi Nurminen finished with 31 saves. Luongo stopped 38 shots.
The Thrashers were 1-for-7 on the power play, and 18 of their 42 shots came
with the man advantage. Florida was 1-for-2 on the power play.
"We had a lot of power plays against us and we can't afford to do that,"
Panthers coach Rick Dudley said. "Whether it's warranted or not, we can't have
penalties like that."
The Thrashers trailed 3-1 in the second period when McEachern began
Atlanta's comeback with his fifth goal of the season, fourth against the
"It's strange," McEachern said of his success against Florida. "I've
never had that happen, really."
McEachern batted a puck out of the air in front of the net and put his own
rebound past Luongo.
"McEachern plays extremely well against us and we have to figure that
out," Dudley said.
Simon tied it with his first NHL goal at 9:49 of the third. Simon put a
rebound past Luongo after Ilya Kovalchuk's shot went wide and bounced back on
the other side of the net.
"When you're playing with Kolvy, you're going to get some chances,"
Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said. "I like him. He brings grit to our lineup.
We knew exactly what we were doing when we made the trade."
Luongo kept it tied 1-1 early in the second with several nice saves as
Atlanta outshot the Panthers 10-0 to start the period.
"He played great, especially on that one power play in the second period
when it seemed like we had 10 shots," McEachern said. "He just kept kicking
his pads out."
Florida's first shot in the period was a wrister from the point by
defenseman Mathieu Biron. After Nurminen's blocker save, Ritchie backhanded the
rebound between Nurminen's pads.
Horton extended the lead when he tipped Valeri Bure's wrist shot from the
point on a power play.
Cowan gave Atlanta a 1-0 lead at 8:31 of the first with the Thrashers on a
four-minute power play.
After Kovalchuk's one-timed slap shot from the point hit the post, the puck
sat in the crease with Luongo out of position until Cowan skated in from the
Cullen tied it 1-1 at 18:11 of the first with his first goal. Cullen, who
returned Wednesday after missing 23 games because of a sports hernia, beat
Nurminen over the shoulder with a backhand from close range.
"We were working hard," Simon said. "The power play was doing everything
but scoring. We knew if we kept battling, things would go our way."