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Atlanta Thrashers 7, Pittsburgh Penguins 4 FINAL @NHL

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Atlanta Thrashers ended their scoring slump in a big way.

Marc Savard had the biggest game of his career with a goal and four assists, and Ilya Kovalchuk snapped out of an eight-game goal drought with two goals and three assists as the Thrashers overwhelmed the Pittsburgh Penguins 7-4 Saturday night.

The NHL's second-highest scoring team had been shut out in a team record three consecutive games, but Ronald Petrovicky scored eight seconds after the opening faceoff to send the Thrashers to their first victory since beating Pittsburgh 6-3 Dec. 12.

"Even when we lose three games and don't score, Bob (coach Bob Hartley) tells us we're still the same team, just keep going, work hard and make things happen," Thrashers captain Shawn McEachern said. "Our power play was really going."

Slava Kozlov added two goals and two assists for Atlanta, which converted three of six power-play chances while beating the Penguins for the third time in five meetings.

Savard, who has figured in on 10 of Atlanta's 16 goals against Pittsburgh this season, assisted on Atlanta's first three goals. He scored his 15th goal early in the third period on the power play and set up Kozlov's power-play goal with 3:39 to play.

"Savard played a great game," Hartley said. "He is one of the offensive leaders on this team, and we needed a big performance from many of our leaders."

Kovalchuk, who matched his career high for points in a game, tied Columbus' Rick Nash for the NHL goal-scoring lead with 20. He used his superb wrist shot to beat Pittsburgh goaltender Sebastien Caron twice in an 8:07 span of the second period.

"It's big for us to get him scoring goals, because when he scores, he's happy," Savard said.

Kovalchuk, who has never gone nine games without a goal, had eight shots on Caron and Jean-Sebastien Aubin. Caron was replaced at the start of the third period.

"When I scored, I felt, `OK, it's over,' " said Kovalchuk, whose first goal at 10:31 of the second period gave Atlanta a 4-1 lead. "Eight games, it's too many for me."

Goals by Milan Kraft and Martin Strbak 3:11 apart cut the Thrashers' lead to 4-3, but Kovalchuk's goal with 1:22 left in the second period effectively ended the comeback.

"We've had a hard time playing against Atlanta recently, but we've just got to learn from that," Pittsburgh defenseman Josef Melichar said. "We have to learn from these games, but it's tough."

Petrovicky's goal came off a pass from Kozlov on a two-on-one break and was the Thrashers' first goal in 182:32. It was the earliest goal from the start of the game in Atlanta history, and the quickest by a Pittsburgh opponent.

"That was a great start. That's what we needed," Kovalchuk said. "Lots of games we're down two goals to start and it's hard to come back."

Rico Fata scored his team-leading 10th goal for Pittsburgh in the third period, and Ryan Malone also scored his eighth of the season in the first period.

"We knew that they weren't scoring in the last couple games, and they have a lot of confidence against us," Penguins coach Ed Olczyk said. "We have been a confidence builder for them."

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