for this game

Staal, Hurricanes storm past Thrashers

Mar 20, 2008 - 4:47 AM
By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- In their first game at Philips Arena since a tornado devastated the downtown area, the Atlanta Thrashers were done in by a team called the Hurricanes.

All-Star Eric Staal scored his team-leading 35th goal and Joe Jensen netted the first of his NHL career to lead the surging Carolina Hurricanes to a 5-3 win over the Thrashers on Wednesday in the first professional sporting event played in downtown Atlanta since a tornado ravaged the area five days ago.

Trevor Letowski, Sergei Samsonov and Erik Cole also tallied and Jeff Hamilton notched two assists for Carolina (40-30-5), which won for the seventh time in eight games and moved five points ahead of Washington (36-31-8) in the Southeast Division. The Capitals suffered a 5-0 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday.

"You want to be playing good hockey through the end of the year, going into the playoffs," Staal said. "It's a matter of keeping it going these last few weeks."

The victory also was the 229th of Peter Laviolette's career, tying him with Robbie Ftorek for third place on the all-time list among American-born coaches. Despite posting what appeared to be an easy win, Laviolette was not pleased with his team's effort.

"I liked the way we were playing going into the playoffs prior to tonight, but I didn't like how we played tonight," he said. "We were on the short end in work effort, determination and grit. I don't like how we played tonight.

"These games (against non-playoff teams) are dangerous. We have more coming up. I hope we can learn from it. It was not a 5-3 ballgame. (The Thrashers) played better than that."

Defenseman Steve McCarthy scored for the first time this season, rookie Bryan Little added a goal and an assist and Vyacheslav Kozlov also tallied for the woeful Thrashers (31-37-8), who fell to 2-10-4 in their last 16 games and watched their hopes of repeating as Southeast champions disappear.

"It seems like it's been a few games since we've been locked out of a playoff spot," said Atlanta goaltender Johan Hedberg, whose team is 12 points out of the eighth and final postseason berth in the East with six games remaining. "We're trying to save what we can for the season. We have to play for our fans and our own pride."

Carolina opened the scoring at 4:05 of the first period, when Patrick Eaves dished a backhand pass across the slot to Letowski in the right faceoff circle. Letowski buried a one-timer past Hedberg to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead.

After Samsonov tallied at 6:55 to double the advantage, Staal made it 3-0 with a wrist shot from the high slot, which beat Hedberg between the pads with 6:27 remaining in the period.

"I've had some pretty good games here," said Staal, who has recorded eight goals and 10 assists in 15 career games at Philips Arena and also claimed the MVP honors during this season's All-Star Game here. "Tonight could have been better. Right now, we want to get the points and wins."

Little got Atlanta on the board 1:56 into the middle session with a one-timer from the slot. But Jensen, who was acquired from Pittsburgh on January 31, restored the three-goal bulge with his first goal in three career games.

The 25-year-old Minnesotan received a backhand pass from behind the net by Hamilton and beat Hedberg with a shot from the bottom of the right circle at 3:35 for a 4-1 cushion.

McCarthy deposited a loose puck past netminder Cam Ward from the doorstep 81 seconds later, but Cole put his own rebound by Hedberg from the left circle during a power play with 5:09 left in the third to give Carolina a 5-2 lead.

Kozlov capped the scoring with his 17th of the season with 39 seconds remaining.

Making his 13th consecutive start, Ward stopped 31 shots - including a handful of tough ones in the first period - to improve to 7-1-0 over his last eight games against Atlanta.

"Ward played huge in the first," Staal said. "We ended up being up three goals, but the results could have been drastically different."

Hedberg made 28 saves for the Thrashers, who fell to 5-14-6 all-time at home against the Hurricanes.

"We were disrespectful to our hardest player," Atlanta captain Bobby Holik said. "To leave him in there like that to get peppered by great scoring chances, it's absolutely disrespectful to a player with character like that, that works harder than anyone."

The contest was the first major event held in the downtown area since an F-2 tornado roared through the area, causing an estimated $250 million in damage to the downtown core Friday night.

Philips Arena - which was hosting a game between the Atlanta Hawks and the Los Angeles Clippers at the time - sustained relatively minor damage to its roof and the Hawks' practice court from the severe storm, which decimated the nearby Georgia Dome and World Congress Center.

Arena officials canceled a concert slated for Saturday, and the remaining rounds of the SEC men's college basketball tournament, which were being played at the storm-ravaged Georgia Dome, were moved to the campus of Georgia Tech.

Things were getting better but not quite back to normal in Atlanta's core, when Wednesday's contest between the Thrashers and Hurricanes got underway.

Broken windows pocketed the downtown core and, due to heavy winds, there were numerous street closings in the area for fear that shards of broken glass from atop the area's skyscrapers would fall to the street below like icicles after a winter thaw.






  • 5
    roots
    Sensfan4eva Added 5 roots

    Hurricanes 5, Thrashers 3  FinalMar 20 8:35 AM


  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    CAROLINA 3 1 1 5
    ATLANTA 0 2 1 3 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: CAR - TREVOR LETOWSKI 6 (PATRICK EAVES, TUOMO RUUTU) 4:04
    CAR - SERGEI SAMSONOV 13 (UNASSISTED) 6:55
    CAR - ERIC STAAL 35 (JEFF HAMILTON) 13:33
    2ND PRD: ATL - BRYAN LITTLE 5 (VYACHESLAV KOZLOV, MARK RECCHI) 1:56
    CAR -

    Mar 19 9:27 PM


  • NHL
    CAROLINA 5
    ATLANTA 3
    3RD PRD: ATL - VYACHESLAV KOZLOV 17 (BRYAN LITTLE, MARK RECCHI) 19:21

    Hurricanes 5, Thrashers 3  3rd - 0:39Mar 19 9:25 PM


  • NHL
    CAROLINA 5
    ATLANTA 2
    3RD PRD: CAR - (PP) ERIK COLE 21 (SERGEI SAMSONOV, BRET HEDICAN) 14:51

    Hurricanes 5, Thrashers 2  3rd - 5:09Mar 19 9:18 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    CAROLINA 3 1 4
    ATLANTA 0 2 2 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: CAR - TREVOR LETOWSKI 6 (PATRICK EAVES, TUOMO RUUTU) 4:04
    CAR - SERGEI SAMSONOV 13 (UNASSISTED) 6:55
    CAR - ERIC STAAL 35 (JEFF HAMILTON) 13:33
    2ND PRD: ATL - BRYAN LITTLE 5 (VYACHESLAV KOZLOV, MARK RECCHI

    Mar 19 8:32 PM


  • NHL
    CAROLINA 4
    ATLANTA 2
    2ND PRD: ATL - STEVE MCCARTHY 1 (CHRIS THORBURN, BOBBY HOLIK) 4:56

    Hurricanes 4, Thrashers 2  2nd - 15:04Mar 19 8:07 PM


  • NHL
    CAROLINA 4
    ATLANTA 1
    2ND PRD: CAR - JOE JENSEN 1 (JEFF HAMILTON, TIM CONBOY) 3:35

    Hurricanes 4, Thrashers 1  2nd - 16:25Mar 19 8:05 PM


  • NHL
    CAROLINA 3
    ATLANTA 1
    2ND PRD: ATL - BRYAN LITTLE 5 (VYACHESLAV KOZLOV, MARK RECCHI) 1:56

    Hurricanes 3, Thrashers 1  2nd - 18:04Mar 19 8:02 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    CAROLINA 3 3
    ATLANTA 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: CAR - TREVOR LETOWSKI 6 (PATRICK EAVES) 4:04
    CAR - SERGEI SAMSONOV 13 (UNASSISTED) 6:55
    CAR - ERIC STAAL 35 (JEFF HAMILTON) 13:33
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    CAR 12

    Mar 19 7:41 PM


  • NHL
    CAROLINA 3
    ATLANTA 0
    1ST PRD: CAR - ERIC STAAL 35 (JEFF HAMILTON) 13:33

    Hurricanes 3, Thrashers 0  1st - 6:27Mar 19 7:32 PM


  • NHL
    CAROLINA 2
    ATLANTA 0
    1ST PRD: CAR - SERGEI SAMSONOV 13 (UNASSISTED) 6:55

    Hurricanes 2, Thrashers 0  1st - 13:05Mar 19 7:18 PM


  • NHL
    CAROLINA 1
    ATLANTA 0
    1ST PRD: CAR - TREVOR LETOWSKI 6 (PATRICK EAVES) 4:04

    Hurricanes 1, Thrashers 0  1st - 15:56Mar 19 7:15 PM