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Hurricanes 4, Thrashers 3, OT @NHL

ATLANTA (AP) - The Atlanta Thrashers refused to offer Frantisek Kaberle a contract in July 2004, so he made his former team pay Tuesday night.

Kaberle scored 32 seconds into overtime to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 4-3 victory over the Thrashers.

"Personally, it's always nice, the first game back here, to get the game-winning goal," Kaberle said. "It was really nice."

Eric Staal added two goals in Carolina's first victory over Atlanta in three meetings this season.

"They've played two good games against us, and we wanted to come in here and prove to ourselves that we can beat that team," Staal said. "We know we've got a lot more games against them, so we have to keep getting better."

Kaberle's fourth goal of the season came on a slap shot from the left circle that ricocheted off the right goal post and behind Thrashers goalie Michael Garnett.

"The last two games have been up and down, so this is a great win for us," said Kaberle, a defenseman who played his first five seasons in Atlanta after Los Angeles traded him and Donald Audette for Kelly Buchberger and Nelson Emerson in March 2000.

"It was a slow start, but we kept going and fighting," Kaberle said. "And tonight, we were the better team."

Marc Savard had a goal and an assist to lead Atlanta.

Staal scored both his goals in the second period, first on a power play at 2:04 and then on a short-handed breakaway at 7:37 to give the Hurricanes a 3-2 lead.

On the breakaway, Staal stole Ilya Kovalchuk's pass and skated past Greg de Vries and Savard. Kovalchuk did the same to Staal and scored two nights before.

"I got a head of steam going when I picked his pass off and went the other way," Staal said. "It was just nice to get a win and get a couple of goals."

Bobby Holik tied it at 3 with 21 seconds left in the second. Atlanta was still on a power play just seconds after ending a two-man advantage when Savard sent a pass from the goal line to Holik in the middle of the left circle.

"Our power play right now is lethal," said Savard, who has five goals and three assists in his last three games. "We can move the puck around as good as anyone in the league. We are positive on that standpoint. Our penalty kill could be better. We have 20 guys on the same page, and it's working out well."

Carolina, which lost 5-2 Sunday in the first game of the home-and-home series, had lost four of five after winning 13 of 15.

The Thrashers ended a two-game winning streak, getting to a franchise-best 16 points in November.

De Vries gave the Thrashers a 1-0 lead 1:13 into the game on a slap shot from the top of the right circle that sailed under goalie Cam Ward's pads.

Savard's 11th goal 2:26 later put Atlanta up 2-0.

"Not happy with the loss, but we have played them well," Savard said. "They are a good team and play hard. I think tonight we had our chances. The game could have went either way, and unfortunately, we got the loss."

Carolina's Justin Williams cut the lead to 2-1 at the 14:09 mark of the first with his ninth goal, a wrist shot over Garnett's right shoulder.

Ward stopped 28 shots for Carolina, and Garnett 19 for Atlanta.

Notes: Kovalchuk, the Thrashers' leading scorer, skated off the ice with 13:16 remaining but soon returned after a collision with Kevyn Adams sent him crashing into the boards behind Atlanta's goal line. ... Staal's short-handed goal was his second of the season, third of his career. ... The Thrashers allowed their third short-handed goal this season, but first at home. ... Peter Bondra recorded his 22nd career assist against the Hurricanes. ... Carolina is 7-3-1 on the road.

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