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Thrashers 4, Panthers 3, SO @NHLdotcom

ATLANTA (AP) - Slava Kozlov knows the Atlanta Thrashers have little room for error as they try for a first playoff appearance.

"Every game is big for us," Kozlov said. "Two points or one point, at the end of the season, those points are going to be important to us."

Kozlov scored the lone goal in the shootout to help Atlanta beat the Florida Panthers 4-3 Monday night.

Marian Hossa added a goal and an assist for the Thrashers, who won their second straight game. Atlanta has won six of its last eight to hold onto ninth place in the Eastern Conference, three points behind Montreal, which lost 5-4 in a shootout at Philadelphia.

Kozlov, who gave the Thrashers' their last shootout win Feb. 11 at Montreal, beat goaltender Roberto Luongo with a glove-side wrister.

Olli Jokinen scored his 28th and 29th goals and had an assist for the Panthers, who have lost three straight and now are 8-22-4 on the road.

"If anybody quits, they're going to hear about it in this dressing room," Florida center Chris Gratton said. "We're professionals. We're paid to be professionals, and your job is to come here and give 110 percent every night."

Kari Lehtonen had four of his 40 saves in overtime, the best coming when he dropped to stop Jokinen's wrister with his right leg pad.

"He's tough to beat," Jokinen said. "There's not much room down low. If you shoot high, it goes over the net. You just have to spot the puck in the right place."

Lehtonen felt more relief than satisfaction.

"I almost gave him a goal in overtime," Lehtonen said. "I think we played well. A couple of goals, we were a little lucky."

Luongo saved 31 of 34 shots, including two in overtime.

Brad Larsen's short-handed goal gave the Thrashers a 3-2 lead with 16:28 left in regulation. Hossa was largely responsible, as he made a one-handed pass to himself off the left boards to beat Jokinen.

After Hossa's wrister bounced off Luongo's skate and off to the right side of the slot, Larsen beat the goalie glove side.

Jokinen tied it at 3-all with 5:01 remaining. A poor decision by Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk, who abandoned the middle to pursue the puck, allowed Jozef Stumpel to pass from the right circle to a wide-open Jokinen beneath the left circle.

"We have to play better," Kozlov said. "We made some mistakes when we had the lead. Fortunately, it did not cost us tonight. We have to play better defensively when we have the lead."

Greg de Vries gave the Thrashers a 1-0 lead with his seventh goal, a slap shot from the top of the slot 2:48 into the first.

Jokinen, the subject of trade talk as the NHL faces a 3 p.m. Thursday deadline, tied it at 1-all with a slap shot from the point outside the left circle.

"We bounced back," Jokinen said. "We got a lot of chances. It's a disappointing way to lose a game."

Hossa's 30th goal gave the Thrashers a 2-1 lead at the 14:29 mark of the first period.

Martin Gelinas burst from the penalty box midway through the second to force a 2-all tie. Just six seconds after leaving the penalty box, Gelinas was ready to take Gratton's pass over the blue line, but the puck took an advantageous bounce off the skate of Atlanta defenseman Andy Sutton.

Gelinas beat Lehtonen on a breakaway for his 12th goal.

"I can't blame the effort tonight," Panthers coach Jacques Martin said. "We played hard and probably deserved a better fate. We're on the road. We did some good things, and they capitalized on some mistakes, and that cost us tremendous effort."

Notes: In six games against Atlanta this season, Jokinen has seven points, including a career-tying, three-assist performance in the Thrashers' 6-4 win Feb. 4. ... Lehtonen had a broken stick on Gelinas' goal. ... Atlanta has won three straight shootouts.

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