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Thrashers 4, Penguins 3

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PITTSBURGH (AP) - Ilya Kovalchuk had some more fun at Sidney Crosby's expense.

Kovalchuk had two goals in the Atlanta Thrashers' 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night to push his NHL-leading total to 32. On Friday night, he had two goals - and taunted Crosby - in a 6-4 win in Atlanta.

``I'm more happy we got the two points,'' Kovalchuk said. ``It's a great win for us.''

Kovalchuk was more gracious after the game Saturday than he was Friday night. Kovalchuk checked Crosby from behind into the boards Friday and Crosby was assessed a slashing penalty for retaliating. Later in the game, Kovalchuk taunted Crosby by pointing to him in the penalty box after scoring his second goal of the game.

Crosby took four penalties Saturday - including a diving minor late in the second period that led to an unsportsmanlike conduct call when he gestured to referee Stephane Auger from the penalty box. The Thrashers did not score on that power play, but did while Crosby was serving his first penalty, for hooking.

``That's the favorite place for him to be as an opponent,'' Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said.

Atlanta's Marc Savard broke a tie with a power-play goal with 3:25 to play, beating goalie Marc-Andre Fleury after Marian Hossa deflected Vyacheslav Kozlov's shot.

``For once the puck came out to me on a rebound,'' Savard said. ``And I caught Fleury down and I was able to get the puck up. We wanted four points (from Pittsburgh), nothing less. So to get them is huge.''

With Crosby serving his hooking penalty early in the second period, Kovalchuk scored his second of the game by blasting a slap shot off of Fleury's pads so hard that the rebound came out to him again at the top of the left circle. The Atlanta star made sure he put his second shot past Fleury to give Atlanta a 2-1 lead.

``It's tough to do anything when you are sitting in the box the whole game,'' Crosby said. ``I've got to improve on that.''

The Thrashers, who moved into seventh place in the Eastern Conference, have earned at least a point in 13 of their last 15 games.

``I think without the penalties, we're fine,'' Crosby said. ``They have a great power play. We were even, I think, if you take away the power plays.''

Kovalchuk, who was booed by the Mellon Arena crowd every time he touched the puck or was announced, also opened the scoring when he slammed home a goal past Fleury from the left faceoff circle.

``I don't care who I play against,'' Kovalchuk said. ``I just play my game.''

Crosby assisted on Michel Ouellet's two power-play goals. The first tied the game at 1 with 4:10 left in the first period. Crosby lunged while falling forward and slung a backhand pass across the slot to Ouellet, who tapped the puck into the net.

``The kid (Crosby) is dangerous,'' Hartley said. ``He can beat you so many ways. He got caught in the box a lot, but he plays with a lot of emotion and a lot of passion for a talented player. Both these teams have franchise players around.''

After Pittsburgh's Ryan Malone tied it at 2 when he steered a rebound past Kari Lehtonen, Atlanta's Jim Slater made it 3-2 with about 3 minutes to play in the second when he somehow got a puck past Fleury after a lengthy scrum in front of the net.

Ouellet scored his second of the game on a rebound from Crosby on a two-man advantage with 10 seconds to play in the second period.

But unlike Friday when Pittsburgh scored four third-period goals, the Penguins managed only five shots in the third period - and none went in.

``It was a battle,'' Lehtonen said. ``We played a great third period. That was the key. This is a huge two points.''

Notes: Ouellet has scored in fifth straight games. Since scoring his first NHL goal Dec. 16, the rookie has 10 goals in 10 games. ... Crosby has a 10-game point streak, the longest by a rookie in the NHL this season. ... Pittsburgh fell to 2-7-2 against Southeast Division teams. ... Since going 15-1 in their first 16 games against the Thrashers' franchise, the Penguins are 3-5.

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