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Kovalchuk scores twice as Thrashers rout Kings 7-0

by John Manasso /

ATLANTA - Maybe an injured foot should be the new lucky charm for the Atlanta Thrashers.

Atlanta got four goals from players battling foot injuries on Friday night in a 7-0 blowout of Los Angeles before 15,638 at Philips Arena.

Ilya Kovalchuk had 2 goals and 2 assists in his second game back after missing six games with a broken right foot. Rookie Evander Kane, also battling a foot injury, also scored twice.

Kovalchuk's foot is still broken, but it hasn't stopped him from leading the Thrashers to back-to-back victories. He scored a goal and had a pair of assists on Thursday in his return, a 5-3 win over the Rangers in New York. Friday's big night gives him seven points in two games.

"Again, I hate to repeat myself, but he's a superstar," said Atlanta coach John Anderson, a five-time 30-goal scorer in the NHL. "Listen, when I played when I missed two practices, I could tell the difference. Quite honestly I think he's going to hit his stride yet. I think he's got a little bit more to give yet."

That's a scary thought: In 10 games, Kovalchuk has 12 goals and 5 assists for 17 points.

But he agreed with his coach after the Thrashers improved to 9-6-1 and moved into eighth place in the East.

"Oh, yeah, definitely, because it's still going to take some time to heal all the way," Kovalchuk said of his foot. "Then I'll be OK."

Kane, the Thrashers' first pick in the Entry Draft last June, has 3 goals in the last two games.

The same also was true on Friday for Maxim Afinogenov: two goals, giving him three in his last two. Alas, he has no lucky injured foot.

Asked if the injured foot is the team's secret, Kane responded with a chuckle.

"There's a lot of us wearing those new shot-blockers on our skates," he said. "Maybe that's just a trend."

Ondrej Pavelec stopped 38 shots for Atlanta for his first NHL shutout

With Los Angeles (11-7-2) entering with the third-most points in the Western Conference, this one did not shape up the way it ended. In fact, for half the game, both teams were deadlocked in a scoreless tie more than halfway through the game.

Kane started a barrage of four Thrashers goals on four consecutive shots in the second period with a wrap-around that looked like it deflected off Davis Drewiske's skate with 9:38 left in the second period.

Kovalchuk scored on a breakaway 2:06 later. Then Zach Bogosian scored his seventh goal - freezing a defenseman and goalie Jonathan Quick by faking a slap shot and then ripping a wrister - which resulted in Kings coach Terry Murray's decision to yank Quick.

Bogosian seemed confused when he was asked if he were surprised to have the League lead in goals by a defenseman with seven.

"I don't know. Sure. No, I just try to shoot whenever I get the opportunity," he said. "Luckily so far you get your bounces. It's not something I'm thinking about all the time, 'I gotta score. I gotta score.' I just have to do my part to help the team and think of defense first and I've been given the green light to go."

But the goaltending change didn't help the Kings. Afinogenov took a pass from Kovalchuk and beat replacement Erik Ersberg just 1:40 later to put Atlanta up 4-0 with 4:34 left in the period.

Kovalchuk added a power play goal at 6:00 of the third period, Afinogenov added a high-light reel goal, splitting two Kings defenders, at 12:01 and Kane scored shorthanded at 16:34.

The Kings were happy to leave town and head for Saturday's game at TampaBay.

"It's never good to get a game like that under your belt," Murray said. "Who wants to lose seven to nothing? They took advantage of some opportunities. They have some explosive players, a couple breakaway goals. They showed a killer instinct."

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