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Kovalchuk, Tkachuk lift Thrashers past Panthers

Mar 7, 2007 - 4:53 AM
ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Ilya Kovalchuk again came through to help the Atlanta Thrashers continue their dominance of the Florida Panthers.

Kovalchuk snapped a third-period tie and and Keith Tkachuk scored twice as the Thrashers defeated the Panthers for the sixth time in as many meetings this season with a 4-2 triumph.

Atlanta has won all seven home games over Florida in the past two seasons and posted their 14th victory in 20 overall encounters. The Thrashers (35-23-10) took a two-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the Southeast Division.

"We beat a good hockey club tonight," Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said. "They are skating well and making a push for the playoffs. They are playing well and gave us all we can handle."

"They have a lot of good young players over there," Tkachuk said. "They are a young team with nothing to lose. We found a way to win. It's that time of year where you have to grind it out. It's a great feeling right now."

After netting the clinching goal in Sunday's win over the Carolina Hurricanes, Kovalchuk broke a 2-2 tie with 6:24 remaining with his 35th goal of the season from the doorstep by goaltender Ed Belfour's right pad.

"(Kovalchuk) is a talented kid," Tkachuk said. "He's a fun guy to play with, and he (has) a knack for scoring. You try to get him the puck as much as possible."

"I tried to stuff it the first time and then it just bounced back to my stick," Florida right wing Scott Mellanby said. "I was trying to stuff it in the side and I think Belfour got a skate on it and it squirted right to (Kovalchuk). I'd like to say I saw him there but I was just trying to jam it. It was a lucky bounce."

Acquired from the St. Louis Blues on Sunday, Tkachuk scored his first two goals with Atlanta and raised his season total to 22 to help the Thrashers win their fourth straight contest.

"It was nice to contribute," Tkachuk said. "You just have to stick with it. You can't rely on (Marian) Hossa to score all the goals. You need everybody chipping in and finally as a line, we clicked."

"When we acquired Keith, we knew he was a great player and veteran, but he has an unbelievable presence at the net," Hartley said of Tkachuk. "He is strong, smart and knows how to position himself."

Juraj Kolnik tied the score, 2-2, at 7:55 of the third period with a slap shot from the slot that found the gap between goaltender Kari Lehtonen's pads. It was his ninth tally of the season.

Hossa snapped a 1-1 tie on a power play at 3:01 of the third period by shooting Alexei Zhitnik's setup pass from the slot inside the left goalpost for his 39th goal, which tied last season's mark.

Kovalchuk and Mellanby registered two assists each and Lehtonen made 38 saves for Atlanta.

"I think we're pretty confident now," said Lehtonen, who is 29-19-8 this season. "It's good to have everybody playing well."

Stephen Weiss netted his 17th tally and Belfour stopped 25 shots for the Panthers, who had their four-game winning streak ended.

"It's just one of those things in hockey," Weiss said. "We've had a tough time here. We competed hard but we just made it really hard on ourselves. I'm still proud of the guys. We hung in there and battled, but at the same time we know we have to be better."

"Our best period was the first," Florida coach Jacques Martin said. "When the game was on the line, they scored on the breakaway and we didn't. We had a chance in the second period but didn't score."








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLORIDA 0 0 2 2
    ATLANTA 0 1 3 4 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: ATL - KEITH TKACHUK 21 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, PASCAL DUPUIS) 2:41
    3RD PRD: FLA - (PP) STEPHEN WEISS 17 (MIKE VAN RYN, MARTIN GELINAS)
    1:04
    ATL - (PP) MARIAN HOSSA 39 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, ALEXEI ZHITNIK)
    3:01
    FLA

    Mar 6 9:34 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 2
    ATLANTA 4
    3RD PRD: ATL - (PP) KEITH TKACHUK 22 (SCOTT MELLANBY, PASCAL DUPUIS)
    18:09

    Panthers vs. ThrashersMar 6 9:33 PM
  • 0
    roots
    RUWTbot Took away 15 roots

    Panthers vs. ThrashersMar 6 9:33 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 2
    ATLANTA 3
    3RD PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 35 (SCOTT MELLANBY, ALEXEI ZHITNIK)
    13:36

    Panthers vs. ThrashersMar 6 9:23 PM
  • 15
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 15 roots

    Panthers vs. ThrashersMar 6 9:20 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 2
    ATLANTA 2
    3RD PRD: FLA - JURAJ KOLNIK 9 (CHRIS GRATTON, JAY BOUWMEESTER) 7:55

    Panthers vs. ThrashersMar 6 9:09 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 1
    ATLANTA 2
    3RD PRD: ATL - (PP) MARIAN HOSSA 39 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, ALEXEI ZHITNIK)
    3:01 (TWO-MAN ADVANTAGE)

    Panthers vs. ThrashersMar 6 9:02 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 1
    ATLANTA 1
    3RD PRD: FLA - (PP) STEPHEN WEISS 17 (MIKE VAN RYN, MARTIN GELINAS)
    1:04

    Panthers vs. ThrashersMar 6 8:57 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLORIDA 0 0 0
    ATLANTA 0 1 1 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: ATL - KEITH TKACHUK 21 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, PASCAL DUPUIS) 2:41
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLA 14 12 26
    ATL 8 11 19
    GOALIES: FLA -

    Mar 6 8:37 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 0
    ATLANTA 1
    2ND PRD: ATL - KEITH TKACHUK 21 (ILYA KOVALCHUK) 2:41

    Panthers vs. ThrashersMar 6 8:06 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLORIDA 0 0
    ATLANTA 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    GOALIES: FLA - ED BELFOUR
    ATL - KARI LEHTONEN

    Mar 6 7:43 PM