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