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Thrashers 5, Hurricanes 2 @NHL

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The Atlanta Thrashers are quite comfortable on the Carolina Hurricanes' home ice.

Ilya Kovalchuk had two goals and two assists, and Marian Hossa scored the go-ahead goal to lead the Thrashers past the Hurricanes 5-2 on Sunday, giving Atlanta its second road win in two tries against Carolina.

Marc Savard and Jean-Pierre Vigier also had goals for the Thrashers, and rookie Michael Garnett made 27 saves to earn his third win.

Not bad for a team that came in 11 points behind the Southeast Division-leading Hurricanes, who are suddenly struggling after a quick start.

``Against some teams, you just feel good,'' Hossa said. ``I think our team feels good against this team and when we see them we just keep going.''

Atlanta ended Carolina's franchise-record, nine-game winning streak with a 9-0 victory two weeks ago, which was also the Hurricanes' first home loss. Kovalchuk scored a pair of goals in that one and had another good day against the Hurricanes.

He got plenty of help, especially from the 23-year-old Garnett who came in allowing 4.73 goals per game. He made 16 saves in Atlanta's 7-4 win against Florida on Saturday and followed that with a solid performance against Carolina.

``He looked like an NHL goalie,'' Atlanta coach Bob Hartley said. ``He felt very comfortable. Right now his confidence should be at the top. He's a good worker and a good kid and he's paid his dues in the organization, so the time has come for him to collect the reward.''

Rookie Andrew Ladd and Aaron Ward scored for the Hurricanes, who have lost four of five heading into a six-game road trip that begins Tuesday at Atlanta.

Hossa put the Thrashers ahead to stay with a breakaway goal. Shane Hnidy sent a pass along the boards that Peter Bondra deflected away from Rod Brind'Amour and Mike Commodore into open ice. Hossa corralled the rolling puck and skated in to beat Martin Gerber for a 3-2 lead at 12:19 of the third.

Kovalchuk sealed the win about 3 minutes later, stealing the puck from Eric Staal and skating away from Carolina's young star for a second breakaway goal. Staal tried to slow Kovalchuk by slashing him hard enough to snap his stick, but Kovalchuk didn't seem to notice as he went on to beat Gerber for a 4-2 lead.

``Those things are all about timing,'' Hartley said. ``I thought for the first 10 minutes it was tough for both sides to get some shots. Both teams were playing very strong defensively. You have to fight for every inch, and suddenly a puck came loose.''

The Hurricanes struggled again on the power play, going 0-for-6. It was the third time in five games that Carolina couldn't score with the man advantage, dropping Carolina to 2-for-24 on the power play in the past four games.

``I thought we had some pretty good shots on our power play,'' Carolina winger Justin Williams said. ``We put a lot of pucks to the net. Unfortunately we weren't able to convert.''

Atlanta got off to a good start, scoring the first two goals in the opening 8 minutes. Kovalchuk stole a pass from Williams during a power play, then sent the puck across the zone to Savard, who knocked a shot past Gerber from the left side at 4:21.

Kovalchuk pushed the lead to 2-0 a few minutes later. He corralled a puck that bounced off the boards from behind the net, then fired a shot that squeezed past Gerber in the upper right corner of the goal.

The Hurricanes closed the gap when Ladd - the No. 4 pick in the 2004 draft - scored for the second straight game when Williams tried to connect with Brind'Amour on a pass from behind the net. The puck slipped by the Hurricanes captain, but Ladd was waiting in between the circles and beat Garnett with a straightaway shot at 15:01 of the period.

Ward tied it late in the second, grabbing Brind'Amour's pass for Ladd that caromed off the boards and slapping a shot from the right side past Garnett at 18:11 of the second.

Notes: Williams' assist on Ladd's goal pushed his point streak to seven games. ... Kovalchuk's assist on Savard's first-period goal marked his third straight game with an assist and extended his point streak to six. ... Atlanta has outscored opponents 35-23 in the final period.

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