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Thrashers use fast start to defeat Islanders

Nov 5, 2006 - 2:53 AM UNIONDALE, New York (Ticker) -- The Atlanta Thrashers scored three times in the first period and never looked back.

Marian Hossa had a goal and an assist and Johan Hedberg made 23 saves to lead the Thrashers to a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders.

Atlanta, which completed a perfect two-game road trip, opened the scoring on J.P. Vigier's backhander 2:59 into the first period.

Hossa tallied his 12th goal of the season, which ties him with Brendan Shanahan of the New York Rangers for the league lead, with 2:42 left in the first. Brad Larsen finished off the early offensive attack just 69 seconds later with a one-timer that beat goaltender Rick DiPietro.

"I think it was one of our better first periods this season," Hossa said. "That was the key."

"It was a huge effort, great forechecking," Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said. "That first period we were on the Islanders. We basically didn't give them any room to maneuver."

Hedberg, making his second consecutive start, played solid in net but never was seriously contested.

"We haven't played him much, and as a goalie, playing back-to-back, he would have a better rhythm," Hartley said. "At the same time, we knew Kari (Lehtonen) had a pretty solid break. Now we have two goalies we know can win. That is very refreshing for this organization.

'He came up with some big saves. I don't think that was a very tough game for him. Johan is so good around the net, he moves the puck well and prevents lots of pressure from the other team."

Jason Blake scored the lone goal for the Islanders, his second in as many games. DiPietro finished with only 15 saves.

"When we scored and made it 3-1, we gained some momentum," New York's Alexei Yashin said. "After they scored the fourth goal, it turned again. In the first period, (Atlanta) came out very strong. It seemed like we couldn't match the intensity. When we got something going, they scored the power play goal."

Defenseman Steve McCarthy completed the Thrashers' scoring as he tallied on a rebound of a shot by Hossa with 1:02 to go in the second period.

"We were very opportunistic," Hartley said. "Our fourth goal really put them back down. They got a little energy with (Jason) Blake's goal. Our power play has had some tough times, but on that goal we executed very well. It could get us going again."

Thrashers captain Scott Mellanby left the game at 7:41 in the third period with an apparent shoulder injury after being checked into the boards by Yashin.

Islanders Defenseman Tom Poti also left the contest in the third when he lost two teeth after colliding with Bobby Holik.

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