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Blackhawks 5, Thrashers 4, SO @NHLdotcom

ATLANTA (AP) - After going 65 minutes without recording any of Chicago's 32 shots, rookie center Michael Holmqvist was surprised to hear his name called for the shootout.

``I didn't think about the game possibly being on my stick,'' Holmqvist said. ``I just saw my opportunity when my teammates missed and I took it.''

Holmqvist beat Atlanta goaltender Michael Garnett in the fifth round of the shootout, and the Blackhawks earned a 5-4 victory over the Thrashers.

Pavel Vorobiev had two goals in regulation and one of three Chicago scored in the shootout. The Blackhawks improved to 3-0 in the NHL's new tiebreaker.

Chicago coach Trent Yawney had forward Martin Lapointe to thank for recognizing one of Holmqvist's strengths.

``He does score more often than not on breakaways,'' Yawney said, ``Marty deserves credit there.''

Ilya Kovalchuk scored his 18th and 19th goals in regulation for Atlanta, which has lost six of seven. The Blackhawks, winners of two straight, have played four consecutive overtime games.

Marc Savard finished with a goal and two assists for the Thrashers. Tyler Arnason had three assists, and Patrick Sharp two for Chicago.

Playing in his 500th NHL game, Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 33 shots and improved to 7-5 in his last 12 starts.

``When they scored their first goal, we panicked a little bit,'' Khabibulin said. ``Then they scored again and got back in the game. The guys kept us in the game.''

After Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa scored in the first two rounds of the shootout, Khabibulin stopped Greg de Vries, Savard and Slava Kozlov.

``We played well for 50 minutes of the game,'' Savard said. ``At least we got a point tonight, but we need two every night.''

Garnett, who made 28 saves, dropped to 4-8-1 this season. He stopped Rene Bourque before Vorobiev and Jaroslav Spacek beat him in the shootout. Sharp missed his attempt before Holmqvist ended the game by firing past Garnett's stick.

``I feel like I am improving every game,'' said Garnett, who has made nine straight starts. ``I'm really trying to work on things in practice so that when I get out there, I'm confident that I can stop every shot. I'm trying to make them beat me instead of beating myself.''

Vorobiev scored the first and third goals of the first period, and Spacek had the second for the Blackhawks, who led 3-0 lead before Savard knocked in a rebound to Khabibulin's glove side at 17:05 of the first.

Kovalchuk's 11th power-play goal, which tied Jaromir Jagr of the New York Rangers for the league lead, scored with 23 seconds remaining in the period.

The Thrashers, who snapped a five-game losing streak by beating Columbus on Friday, couldn't start a winning streak. Getting going slowly on Sunday disappointed Atlanta coach Bob Hartley.

``We were simply not there, but we showed character and scored some nice goals,'' said Hartley, whose team dropped to 0-3 in shootouts. ``We generated a lot of good chances and did a lot of good things.''

Kozlov's eighth goal sailed inside the right post and beat Khabibulin low as Atlanta took a 4-3 lead with 11:33 remaining in regulation. Duncan Keith tied it less than three minutes later with a backhander from the slot.

Notes: The Blackhawks have scored three goals in a period five times this season, three times on the road. ... Khabibulin, who helped Tampa Bay win the 2004 Stanley Cup, is 219-201-58 in his career.

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