for this game

Staal scores twice as Hurricanes thump Thrashers

Mar 6, 2008 - 3:53 AM
By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- The red-hot Carolina Hurricanes may have extinguished the playoff hopes of the defending Southeast Division champion Atlanta Thrashers.

All-Star Eric Staal scored two goals and set up another and Scott Walker and Erik Cole each recorded a tally and an assist to lead the Hurricanes to a 6-3 triumph over the struggling Thrashers on Wednesday.

Ryan Bayda and defenseman Joe Corvo also scored and blue-liner Frantisek Kaberle collected three assists for Carolina (35-29-5), which moved 10 points ahead of Atlanta (29-32-7) in the division.

"We're getting to be a confident team and believing in ourselves," said Cole, whose club has earned at least one point in nine of its last 11 games (8-2-1). "When you have that, it's going to carry over on the ice. Every two points are important. It doesn't matter whether it's a division game or not."

Erik Christensen netted his first goal with Atlanta and All-Star Ilya Kovalchuk added to his team lead with his 43rd for the struggling Thrashers, who have dropped a season-high eight games in a row (0-5-3).

"When you give up six goals and lose 6-3, it's hard to think of anything positive," said Christensen, who was acquired from Pittsburgh at the trade deadline on February 26. "We were either in the (penalty) box too much or (causing) turnovers. We don't make it easy on ourselves."

Things started out promising for the struggling Thrashers as Chris Thorburn opened the scoring at 4:12 of the first period. But the Hurricanes scored four unanswered goals to take firm control.

Kaberle laced a slap shot from just above the left faceoff circle that was redirected by Walker in the high slot over the glove of goaltender Kari Lehtonen at 8:12 of the first period to even the contest at 1-1.

Walker assisted on the next tally, making a cross-slot pass to Bayda from the left faceoff dot following a turnover. The 27-year-old Bayda buried a one-timer from the right dot to give Carolina a 2-1 lead with 54 seconds remaining in the first.

The goal capped another miserable period for the woeful Thrashers, who were kicked out of practice on Tuesday by associate coach Brad McCrimmon in a bid to light a fire under the struggling club.

But that motivational tactic obviously did not work. Atlanta took more penalties in the first (four) than shots on goal, as the club was outshot, 14-3.

"We have to look ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves if it's the best we can do," Thrashers goaltender Johan Hedberg said. "I don't think so."

In fact, the only thing on fire at Philips Arena - besides the Buckhead Diner restaurant at club level, which set off the building's fire alarm system with a minor grease fire during the pregame skate - was the Hurricanes' offense.

Corvo was the beneficiary of Vyacheslav Kozlov's ill-advised high-sticking penalty at the end of the first period, scoring during a power play 27 seconds into the middle session.

The blue-liner, who was acquired from Ottawa on February 11, took a cross-slot pass from Sergei Samsonov and blasted a one-timer from the right circle into the vacant side of the net to extend the advantage to 3-1.

Cole made it a three-goal bulge at 10:39 with a one-timer from the top of the slot before Christensen beat netminder Cam Ward on a breakaway with 2:51 remaining after Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason turned over the puck when he collided with an official in his own zone.

Despite holding a two-goal lead, Carolina coach Peter Laviolette was not pleased with his team's effort in the period.

"The second period, I thought we were not good, we were back (on our heels)," Laviolette said. "The scoreboard didn't say that, but I didn't like what we did."

Things got worse for Atlanta in the third as blue-liner Garnet Exelby assisted in Carolina's fifth goal at 3:41. Staal's attempt at a wraparound near the right goalpost hit the stick and helmet of Exelby before popping over Hedberg, who had replaced Lehtonen in the second period.

Thrashers coach Don Waddell erupted at the officials following the tally, which occurred seconds after Hedberg appeared to freeze the puck.

"That was a weird play," Staal said. "I guess the referee wanted (Hedberg) to play the puck. He ended up getting it and we got control back. It was a wraparound that hit Exelby in the helmet and went in. I'll take it."

"We're battling and fighting for our lives and you get a call like that, and it's very disappointing," Waddell said. "As you know, I don't get too excited over there behind the bench because I think sometimes the players react negatively. I'm not a referee-basher, but I've been around a long time and I've never seen that called."

Hedberg admitted he was told to play the puck instead of freezing it.

"The referee forced me to play it," he said. "He said he would give me a penalty for the defenseman kicking it back to me. We were so tired, we just wanted to change. I didn't know what to do. Maybe I should have held onto it and taken the penalty."

Kovalchuk redirected defenseman Ken Klee's slap pass from the right point past Ward at 12:17 of the third, but it was too little, too late for the Thrashers.

Staal capped the scoring by blasting the puck into a vacant net with 79 seconds remaining as Hedberg was attempting to get to the bench for an extra attacker.

Ward turned aside 21 shots for Carolina, which remained three points ahead of Washington (32-28-8) in the race for the Southeast title.

Lehtonen allowed four goals on 22 shots before being lifted in favor of Hedberg, who made 13 saves.

Kovalchuk added an assist for the Thrashers, who have not recorded a victory since February 15.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    CAROLINA 2 2 2 6
    ATLANTA 1 1 1 3 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: ATL - CHRIS THORBURN 3 (BOBBY HOLIK, ILYA KOVALCHUK) 4:21
    CAR - SCOTT WALKER 8 (FRANTISEK KABERLE, KEITH AUCOIN) 8:12
    CAR - RYAN BAYDA 3 (SCOTT WALKER) 19:06
    2ND PRD: CAR - (PP) JOE CORVO 9 (SERGEI SAMSONOV, MATT CULL

    Mar 5 9:38 PM


  • NHL
    CAROLINA 6
    ATLANTA 3
    3RD PRD: CAR - ERIC STAAL 32 (FRANTISEK KABERLE) 18:31

    Hurricanes 6, Thrashers 3  3rd - 1:29Mar 5 9:34 PM
  • 15
    roots
    lpickrell Added 5 roots

    Hurricanes 5, Thrashers 3  3rd - 7:43Mar 5 9:26 PM


  • NHL
    CAROLINA 5
    ATLANTA 3
    3RD PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 43 (KEN KLEE, ALEXEI ZHITNIK) 12:17

    Hurricanes 5, Thrashers 3  3rd - 7:43Mar 5 9:22 PM


  • NHL
    CAROLINA 5
    ATLANTA 2
    3RD PRD: CAR - ERIK COLE 19 (UNASSISTED) 3:41

    Hurricanes 5, Thrashers 2  3rd - 16:19Mar 5 9:05 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    CAROLINA 2 2 4
    ATLANTA 1 1 2 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: ATL - CHRIS THORBURN 3 (BOBBY HOLIK, ILYA KOVALCHUK) 4:21
    CAR - SCOTT WALKER 8 (FRANTISEK KABERLE, KEITH AUCOIN) 8:12
    CAR - RYAN BAYDA 3 (SCOTT WALKER) 19:06
    2ND PRD: CAR - (PP) JOE CORVO 9 (SERGEI SAMSON

    Mar 5 8:39 PM


  • NHL
    CAROLINA 4
    ATLANTA 2
    2ND PRD: ATL - ERIK CHRISTENSEN 10 (UNASSISTED) 17:09

    Hurricanes 4, Thrashers 2  2nd - 2:51Mar 5 8:34 PM
  • 10
    roots
    fireline12 Added 5 roots

    Hurricanes 4, Thrashers 1  2nd - 6:21Mar 5 8:31 PM


  • NHL
    CAROLINA 4
    ATLANTA 1
    2ND PRD: CAR - ERIK COLE 18 (ERIC STAAL, FRANTISEK KABERLE) 10:39

    Hurricanes 4, Thrashers 1  2nd - 9:21Mar 5 8:22 PM


  • NHL
    CAROLINA 3
    ATLANTA 1
    2ND PRD: CAR - (PP) JOE CORVO 9 (SERGEI SAMSONOV, MATT CULLEN) 0:27

    Hurricanes 3, Thrashers 1  2nd - 19:33Mar 5 8:03 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    CAROLINA 2 2
    ATLANTA 1 1 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: ATL - CHRIS THORBURN 3 (BOBBY HOLIK, ILYA KOVALCHUK) 4:21
    CAR - SCOTT WALKER 8 (FRANTISEK KABERLE, KEITH AUCOIN) 8:12
    CAR - RYAN BAYDA 3 (SCOTT WALKER) 19:06
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    ---

    Mar 5 7:43 PM


  • NHL
    CAROLINA 2
    ATLANTA 1
    1ST PRD: CAR - RYAN BAYDA 3 (SCOTT WALKER) 19:06

    Hurricanes 2, Thrashers 1  1st - 0:54Mar 5 7:41 PM


  • NHL
    CAROLINA 1
    ATLANTA 1
    1ST PRD: CAR - RYAN BAYDA 3 (SCOTT WALKER, FRANTISEK KABERLE) 8:12

    Hurricanes 1, Thrashers 1  1st - 11:48Mar 5 7:23 PM


  • NHL
    CAROLINA 0
    ATLANTA 1
    1ST PRD: ATL - CHRIS THORBURN 3 (BOBBY HOLIK, ILYA KOVALCHUK) 4:21

    Hurricanes 0, Thrashers 1  1st - 15:39Mar 5 7:15 PM
  • 5
    roots
    Sensfan4eva Added 5 roots

    Hurricanes vs. ThrashersMar 1 11:59 PM