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Kozlov, Hedberg lead Thrashers to fourth straight

by Brian Hunter /
Ilya Kovalchuk didn't score a goal for the first time since returning from a broken foot, but a pair of his countrymen helped the Atlanta Thrashers rally for a win on Sunday.

Slava Kozlov's first goal of the season with 8:01 remaining led the Thrashers to their season-high fourth consecutive victory, 3-2 over the Edmonton Oilers at Philips Arena.

''Obviously it was a slow start for me,'' said Kozlov, who scored 26 goals last season. ''Hopefully, I will pick it up. I tried to stay calm and just work hard. It feels good.''

Atlanta had tied the score with 22 seconds left in the second period on a power-play goal by Maxim Afinogenov, his seventh of the season. Afinogenov, who signed as a free agent over the summer, had just six goals in 48 games last season for Buffalo.

Zach Bogosian also scored on the power play, extending his goal lead among NHL defenseman, and Johan Hedberg made 34 saves as the Thrashers took over second place in the Southeast Division, one point ahead of idle Tampa Bay.

Shawn Horcoff and Dustin Penner scored in the second period to give the Oilers a 2-1 lead. Nikolai Khabibulin finished with 27 saves but couldn't prevent Edmonton from falling to 1-5-1 in its last seven games.

''We are a team that finds a way not to do the right thing,'' Oilers coach Pat Quinn said. ''We missed our assignments today and instead of walking away with something to work with, we walk away with nothing but maybe a moral victory.''

Kovalchuk did assist on Bogosian's goal 4:37 into the first period, his eighth point in three games back in the Atlanta lineup. He had a goal and two assists against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday and followed that up with two goals and two assists against the Kings on Friday.

The 19-year-old Bogosian, who was taken third by the Thrashers in the 2008 Entry Draft, leads all NHL defensemen this season with eight goals.

Special teams made the difference in the game, as Atlanta killed off all five of its penalties and finished 2-for-3 on the power play.

''Their power-play goal gave them a quick turnaround,'' Edmonton forward Andrew Cogliano said. ''We had chances to put it away. We were around the net.''

Hedberg, who won his third straight start, and Rich Peverley, who registered a pair of assists, were particularly happy to see Kozlov get going.

''We need him to be a part of our team,'' Hedberg said. ''For him to get his first goal was big for him.''

"It's great," said Peverley, the Thrashers' leading scorer with 23 points. "He's had a tremendous amount of chances and a lot of the chances he gets he usually puts in. I think he was really happy to get that one. … It's just a matter of getting that first one and letting the floodgates open."

Material from wire services and team online media was used in this report.

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