for this game

Hedberg, offense lead Thrashers past Hurricanes

Apr 7, 2007 - 4:25 AM RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) -- With the first playoff berth in franchise history already secured, the Atlanta Thrashers added to it a division title.

Ilya Kovalchuk extended his goal-scoring streak to three games and Johan Hedberg made 32 saves as the Thrashers skated to a 4-1 triumph over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Pascal Dupuis, Marian Hossa and former Hurricane Eric Belanger also tallied for the Thrashers (42-28-11), who entered with a one-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning for the top spot in the Southeast Division and home-ice advantage in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Tampa Bay (44-33-4) suffered a 7-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on Friday, clinching the division crown for Atlanta.

"You want help sometimes, (but) what we are doing is what really matters," Hedberg said. "Obviously, it feels really good right now. It's a big night for us."

"This was our goal before the season began," Kovalchuk added. "Now we get to the real game. That's why we're all here. ... I've been waiting for that for five years. ... We're going to have home-ice advantage. That's very important for the playoffs."

Atlanta coach Bob Hartley, who led Colorado to the Stanley Cup championship in 2001, instructed his team to approach the game against Carolina with a must-win attitude.

"This morning, I asked them to go out and play a Game Seven," he said. "I told them we were in that kind of situation. I think all of our guys deserve lots of credit. ... It was a big win for the organization, our fans, the owners."

The Thrashers got off to a strong start as Kovalchuk scored just over three minutes into the game. Dupuis doubled the lead less than 5 1/2 minutes later, and Hossa made it 3-0 just 59 seconds into the third period.

"We got down two goals early," Carolina's Justin Williams said. "It wasn't for lack of effort, a couple of bounces and some that didn't go in. The third goal they scored was also deflating. I felt we had some chances to score, but Hedberg played a strong game for them. He was the difference."

Carolina, which failed to qualify for the postseason after winning the Stanley Cup last year, got on the board at 2:35 on a power-play goal by Anson Carter.

"You never know about a good team like this," Hedberg said of the Hurricanes. "They've got a good power play. One goes in and they're back in the game again."

But Belanger restored Atlanta's three-goal advantage midway through the session with his first tally in seven games.

Starting in place of Kari Lehtonen, who was being rested for a potential showdown with Tampa Bay on Saturday, Hedberg was superb, turning aside the first 19 shots he faced. The veteran Swede improved to 4-0-1 in his last five starts.

"He is a quality competitor," Hartley said. "He's a solid guy and the players in the locker room have lots of respect for him. His attitude and working habits are such great qualities. He works at it and he deserves everything that he gets. ... He's a great warrior."

Belanger added an assist for the Thrashers, who scored more than three goals for the first time in seven contests.

Cam Ward made 24 saves for Carolina, which has lost five of its last six.

"It's frustrating, no question," Hurricanes center Eric Staal said. "When things are going well, things are bouncing your way and in. When things aren't, it tends to drag and be more difficult. It's felt that way the last few."

Kovalchuk beat Ward with a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle at 3:11 of the opening period for his 41st goal of the season and a 1-0 lead.

"I got a breakaway from the side," Kovalchuk said. "I just shot it. It worked."

"It's never the way to start a game," Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said.

Dupuis made it a two-goal advantage at 8:33, converting a pass from behind the net by Brad Larsen for his 14th tally. After a scoreless middle session, Hossa fired the puck between the pads of Ward after a turnover early in the third for a 3-0 bulge.

"There was good forechecking by my linemates," Hossa said. "We just threw the puck deep in the corner. I just got the puck and tried to take it to the net. The puck slipped from my blade and I got a lucky goal."

Carter got the Hurricanes on the board less than two minutes later with a shot from the high slot.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 2 0 2 4
    CAROLINA 0 0 1 1 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 41 (KEITH TKACHUK, JON SIM) 3:11
    ATL - PASCAL DUPUIS 14 (BRAD LARSEN) 8:33
    2ND PRD: NONE
    3RD PRD: ATL - MARIAN HOSSA 43 (UNASSISTED) 0:59
    CAR - (PP) ANSON CARTER 11 (CORY STILLMAN, ERIC STAAL) 2:3

    Apr 6 9:27 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 4
    CAROLINA 1
    3RD PRD: ATL - ERIC BELANGER 17 (ANDY SUTTON, VYACHESLAV KOZLOV) 9:58

    Thrashers vs. HurricanesApr 6 9:10 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 3
    CAROLINA 1
    3RD PRD: CAR - (PP) ANSON CARTER 11 (CORY STILLMAN, ERIC STAAL) 2:35

    Thrashers vs. HurricanesApr 6 8:56 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 3
    CAROLINA 0
    3RD PRD: ATL - MARIAN HOSSA 43 (UNASSISTED) 0:59

    Thrashers vs. HurricanesApr 6 8:53 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 2 0 2
    CAROLINA 0 0 0 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 41 (KEITH TKACHUK, JON SIM) 3:11
    ATL - PASCAL DUPUIS 14 (BRAD LARSEN) 8:33
    2ND PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATL 9 11 20
    CAR

    Apr 6 8:33 PM


  • ------------------------
    Atlanta
    2 --2
    Carolina 0 --0
    ------------------------

    FIRST PERIOD -- Scoring: 1, Atlanta, Ilya Kovalchuk 41 (Keith Tkachuk,
    Jon Sim), 3:11. 2, Atlanta, Pascal Dupuis 14 (Brad Larsen), 8:33.
    Penalties: J Vasicek, Car (hooking), 10:30; G Exelby, Atl (roughing),
    13:15.

    Shots on goal:
    -----------------------------
    Atlanta 9 --9
    Carolina

    Apr 6 7:40 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 2
    CAROLINA 0
    1ST PRD: ATL - PASCAL DUPUIS 14 (BRAD LARSEN) 8:33

    Thrashers vs. HurricanesApr 6 7:22 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 1
    CAROLINA 0
    1ST PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 41 (KEITH TKACHUK, JON SIM) 3:11

    Thrashers vs. HurricanesApr 6 7:14 PM