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by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

ATLANTA – The Pittsburgh Penguins rallied for four-straight goals in the third period, but could not overcome the Atlanta Thrashers as they held on for a 6-4 victory.

The Atlanta Thrashers jumped to a 3-0 lead over the Penguins in the first period.

Ilya Kovalchuk scored 1:28 into the game as he took a pass from Marc Savard and ripped a shot into an open net. Goaltender Jocelyn Thibault had no chance as he skated out of his crease to challenge Savard.

Slava Kozlov made it 2-0 at 6:38 when his wrister beat Thibault.

Scott Mellanby tallied a goal at 9:33 to make it 3-0. His shot beat Thibault, hit the far post and barely slid over the goal line.

Marc-Andre Fleury replaced Thibault in net following Mellanby’s goal.

Atlanta boosted its lead to 5-0 in the second period.

Marian Hossa scored a power-play goal 6:01 into the period for a 4-0 advantage.

Kovalchuk made it 5-0 with 1:56 to go in the second period when he ripped a slapshot past a screened Fleury on the power play.

John LeClair got the Penguins on the scoreboard 2:28 into the third period. He took a Mark Recchi pass behind the Atlanta net, skated in front of the net on the far side and slipped a shot past Kari Lehtonen.

Michel Ouellet made it 5-2 with a power-play goal at 4:07. Near the far corner, Crosby sent a pass across the slot to Ric Jackman in the right circle. Jackman slid the puck to Ouellet, who fired it into the goal.

Colby Armstrong scored his first NHL goal 10:17 into the third on a power play. He flipped Tomas Surovy’s rebound past Lehtonen. Recchi earned the other assist.

Recchi cut the Penguins’ deficit to 5-4 with 4:18 to play when he scored a power-play goal. Sergei Gonchar’s shot from near the blue line went on goal. The rebound popped out to Recchi, who was near the far circle.

Kovlachuk added an empty-net goal to complete the hat-trick with 44.1 seconds to play.

The Penguins return to action Saturday at 7:30 p.m. as the Thrashers visit Mellon Arena.

ICE CHIPS: Ryan Malone and Dick Tarnstrom were the Penguins’ healthy scratches…The Penguins’ loss was the first by more than one goal since Michel Therrien took over the team on Dec. 15.

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