for this game

Lehtonen, early onslaught power Thrashers

Dec 2, 2007 - 4:36 AM
By Doug Mittler PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

UNIONDALE, New York (Ticker) -- A fresh face in goal worked wonders for the Atlanta Thrashers and was a disaster for the New York Islanders.

Kari Lehtonen returned to the lineup and stopped 33 shots for his eighth career shutout and the Thrashers scored three early goals against Wade Dubielewicz en route to a 4-0 victory over the Islanders on Saturday.

Lehtonen, who had been on a conditioning assignment with Chicago of the American Hockey League, was recalled earlier in the day after missing 16 games with a groin injury. The native of Finland began the season as the Thrashers' No. 1 goaltender, but was 0-4-0 with a 4.49 goals-against average before being hurt.

"I'm playing with much more confidence," Lehtonen said. "When you start the season, everybody's trying to get used to each other. We're much better now as a team. It's nice to be back, and nice to see everybody play well."

The 24-year-old Lehtonen recorded his first shutout since November 30, 2006 against Toronto, turning aside nine shots in the first period, five in the second and a whopping 19 in the third.

"I don't think you can ask for anything better than what happened to Kari tonight," Thrashers coach Don Waddell said. "He was on top of his game."

Lehtonen preserved the shutout with a nice blocker save on a shot by Sean Bergenheim early the third. Islanders defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron came close to scoring midway through the session but hit the goalpost with a slap shot.

Ilya Kovalchuk scored his league-leading 21st goal just 34 seconds into the contest for the Thrashers, who snapped a three-game losing streak.

Eric Boulton, Marian Hossa and Vyacheslav Kozlov also tallied in the first period to give Lehtonen a 4-0 cushion.

That was more than enough against the Islanders, who failed to score more than two goals for the 12th straight time.

"I'm not a real strong believer in pregame skates, but this morning, I thought we would be ready to play," Islanders coach Ted Nolan said. "I was wrong. We just weren't prepared, right from the beginning."

With the Islanders playing for the fourth time in six nights, coach Ted Nolan started Dubielewicz in goal in place of Rick DiPietro, who had tied a career high by making 18 consecutive starts. But Dubielewicz was the victim of some shoddy defense in front of him while allowing three goals on Atlanta's first five shots.

"It just feels like we got behind the eight ball and, me personally, I got rattled out there a little bit," Dubielewicz said. "It's tough to calm yourself down. (If) you only get to play once in a while, you want to impress the guys and the coaching staff so they can feel comfortable with you."

Kovalchuk scored on the first shift, skating around defenseman Radek Martinek at the blue line and putting a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle past Dubielewicz.

"We knew they played a goalie that doesn't play a lot, so we wanted to jump on them early," Kovalchuk said.

The first overall pick in the 2001 draft, Kovalchuk has 17 goals in his last 17 games.

Boulton was not picked up by defenseman Andy Sutton and poked home the rebound of Jim Slater's shot at 6:12 for his first goal of the season.

Hossa scored from the slot 50 seconds later after receiving a perfect pass from Kovalchuk.

Kozlov tallied on a wrist shot from the left circle with 13 seconds left in the period, prompting Dubielewicz to break his stick over the crossbar in frustration.

"It's tough for a goalie to play 5-on-0," said Islanders captain Bill Guerin, who was held without a point for the 13th straight game.






  • 5
    roots
    MetsFan Added 5 roots

    Thrashers vs. IslandersFeb 9 8:27 PM


  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 4 0 0 4
    NY ISLANDERS 0 0 0 0 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 21 (TOBIAS ENSTROM, NICLAS HAVELID)
    0:34
    ATL - ERIC BOULTON 1 (JIM SLATER, PASCAL DUPUIS) 6:12
    ATL - MARIAN HOSSA 10 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, NICLAS HAVELID) 7:02
    ATL - VYACHESLAV KOZLOV 7 (CHRIS THORBUR

    Dec 1 9:35 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 4 0 4
    NY ISLANDERS 0 0 0 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 21 (TOBIAS ENSTROM, NICLAS HAVELID)
    0:34
    ATL - ERIC BOULTON 1 (JIM SLATER, PASCAL DUPUIS) 6:12
    ATL - MARIAN HOSSA 10 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, NICLAS HAVELID) 7:02
    ATL - VYACHESLAV KOZLOV 7 (

    Dec 1 8:43 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 4 4
    NY ISLANDERS 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 21 (TOBIAS ENSTROM, NICLAS HAVELID)
    0:34
    ATL - ERIC BOULTON 1 (JIM SLATER, PASCAL DUPUIS) 6:12
    ATL - MARIAN HOSSA 10 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, NICLAS HAVELID) 7:02
    ATL - VYACHESLAV KOZLOV 7 (

    Dec 1 7:51 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 4
    NY ISLANDERS 0
    1ST PRD: ATL - VYACHESLAV KOZLOV 7 (CHRIS THORBURN, BOBBY HOLIK) 19:47

    Thrashers vs. IslandersDec 1 7:49 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 3
    NY ISLANDERS 0
    1ST PRD: ATL - MARIAN HOSSA 10 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, NICLAS HAVELID) 7:02

    Thrashers vs. IslandersDec 1 7:23 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 2
    NY ISLANDERS 0
    1ST PRD: ATL - ERIC BOULTON 1 (JIM SLATER, PASCAL DUPUIS) 6:12

    Thrashers vs. IslandersDec 1 7:22 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 1
    NY ISLANDERS 0
    1ST PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 21 (TOBIAS ENSTROM, NICLAS HAVELID) 0:34

    Thrashers vs. IslandersDec 1 7:14 PM