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'Canes move into eighth with win at Atlanta

by John Manasso /
ATLANTA – The Carolina Hurricanes ended a three-game losing streak and moved two points ahead of Atlanta for the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot as Erik Cole scored with 1:19 left in regulation for a 3-2 win over the Thrashers at Philips Arena in a battle for eighth between Southeast Division foes.

Cole, who beat Atlanta in overtime on Feb. 5 with a goal, scored on a wrist shot from right circle after taking a feed along the boards from Sergei Samsonov. Cam Ward was brilliant in stopping 41 shots. It was the second straight night in which Carolina scored goals late in the third to earn points. On Saturday, they scored twice in the final minute of regulation to force overtime and lose 4-3 at
Tampa Bay.

Atlanta has won just once in its last five.

Carolina entered with a three-game losing streak but with four points in its last four (1-1-2). The Hurricanes had won all three meetings in the season series entering Sunday and all of them either came in overtime or in a shootout.

Ladd got his second unassisted goal of the game in almost exactly the same fashion. He picked up a loose puck after it bounced off the board and past Canes defenseman Jamie McBain in the neutral zone and scored on a breakaway just 26 seconds into the third period.

Despite being outshot 20-5 in the second period, Carolina took a 2-1 lead into the third period – mostly because of the fantastic play of Ward. Atlanta put constant pressure on the Canes in the second period, but some nice work by Carolina earned the go-ahead goal. Jeff Skinner raced down the ice to retrieve a puck behind the Thrashers' net as two Thrashers followed. He quickly got the puck to Tuomo Ruutu, who passed it back to Joe Corvo for a slap shot high in the zone in the middle of the ice that beat Ondrej Pavelec to the blocker side with 1:36 left in the period.

Earlier in the period, Andrew Ladd scored on a breakaway, blocking Corvo's shot and outracing the defenseman to the puck. Ladd made a nice move around Ward to score before plowing into his former teammate at 3:20. It was Ladd's 18th goal, marking a career-high for him and also helping him take over the team lead.

Carolina scored the first period's only goal. Joni Pitkanen, along the left boards, faked a slap shot and slid a hard pass through the middle to Jiri Tlusty, who potted a wrist shot from the slot about 15 feet out at 9:06.

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