for this game

Kovalchuk scores twice as Thrashers snap losing streak

Nov 3, 2008 - 2:44 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Ilya Kovalchuk picked the right time to record his first multi-goal game of the season for the Atlanta Thrashers.

Kovalchuk notched two goals - including a highlight-reel tally in the second period - and added an assist in leading the Thrashers to a 5-3 victory over the Florida Panthers on Sunday evening at Philips Arena.

Vyacheslav Kozlov and Bryan Little each added their sixth tallies for Atlanta, which snapped a six-game winless streak.

"It's tough for us to score goals right now," Kovalchuk said. "But it seems like when I score goals, we win."

Things have not been going well for the low-flying Thrashers, who have amassed just seven points in their first 12 games.

One of the reasons for their lack of success has been the sporadic play of their star Kovalchuk, who had just three goals and three assists in the first 11 games of the season.

Things did not look good early as the Russian star skated off the ice after his first shift and headed to the locker room.

Kovalchuk claimed it was a skate issue that forced him down the tunnel. His coach, John Anderson, claimed it was a muscle injury.

Whatever it was, the Thrashers were glad that the 2004 Maurice Richard Trophy winner returned to the ice and produced.

Erik Christensen set up Kovalchuk's first tally with a cross-crease pass to the streaking Russian on the doorstep.?? Kovalchuk blasted the puck past Tomas Vokoun to give the Thrashers a 2-0 lead at 5:05 of the second period.

After David Booth halved the deficit with a power-play goal 1:42 later, Kovalchuk re-established the two-goal cushion with a sensational tally with 9:30 left in the middle session.

He slashed his way laterally from the left faceoff circle to the slot before falling to the ice.?? But Kovalchuk somehow managed to get a shot off, which went over the left shoulder of Vokoun to give the Thrashers a 3-1 lead.

"He's unbelievable," Atlanta goaltender Ondrej Pavelec said. "The goal he scored tonight, it's going to be a highlight on TV. They're going to show it every day.

"He's a great player. Everytime he scores, he gives the team confidence. He's a very important guy for this team."

Kovalchuk was not done just yet.

The Russian left wing passed the puck to a streaking Little, who split a pair of Florida defenders before beating an out-of-position Vokoun on the breakaway with three minutes remaining in the second period.

Florida answered with two tallies - Nathan Horton's fourth goal of the season with 1:40 remaining in the second and a goal by defenseman Noah Welch 3:17 into the final period - but would draw no closer.

Todd White closed the scoring with an empty-net goal with 44 seconds remaining in the contest.

It had been a long time -15 days - since the last time that Atlanta had recorded a victory. Things got worse the past week, as the club was outscored, 16-3, over their previous three contests.

Anderson was starting to feel the pressure.

"Tonight was like a playoff game," said Anderson, who won the Calder Cup as coach of the Chicago Wolves last season. "I felt just as nervous and anxious as any game we played in years past."

But Kovalchuk's heroics helped put Atlanta's streak of futility in the rearview mirror.

"We can't give up six or seven (goals)," said Kovalchuk, noting to losses of 7-0 and 6-1 that the club suffered over the past week. "We apologize to the fans for that. We're much better than that."

Kozlov opened the scoring with a hard shot from the slot that knocked down Vokoun with eight seconds left in the first period.

Atlanta set the tone in the first, posting a 15-4 advantage in shots on goal.

"I think the first period was awful," Horton said. "We weren't ready. I think we have to get back on track."

Vokoun stopped 26 shots for the Panthers, who are winless in their last four games.

"It's inexcusable the way we came out to play," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. "We weren't ready to play. We weren't ready to play. When you don't come ready to play, that's what you get. There's no excuse for not showing up ready to go to work."

Pavelec steered aside 18 shots for Atlanta, which won for the first time since defeating the Buffalo Sabres in a shootout here on October 18.






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    Panthers 3, Thrashers 5  FinalNov 2 11:39 PM


  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLORIDA 0 2 1 3
    ATLANTA 1 3 1 5 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: ATL - VYACHESLAV KOZLOV 6 (GARNET EXELBY, TODD WHITE) 19:51
    2ND PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 4 (ERIK CHRISTENSEN, JASON WILLIAMS)
    5:05
    FLA - (PP) DAVID BOOTH 4 (JAY BOUWMEESTER) 6:47
    ATL - (PP) ILYA KOVALCHUK 5 (ERIK CH

    Nov 2 7:31 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 3
    ATLANTA 5
    3RD PRD: ATL - (EN) TODD WHITE 3 (UNASSISTED) 19:16

    Panthers 3, Thrashers 5  3rd - 0:44Nov 2 7:27 PM
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    Panthers 3, Thrashers 5  3rd - 0:44Nov 2 7:27 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 15 roots (Close Finish)

    Panthers 3, Thrashers 4  3rd - 2:23Nov 2 7:24 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 3
    ATLANTA 4
    3RD PRD: FLA - BRYAN MCCABE 1 (NOAH WELCH, ROSTISLAV OLESZ) 3:17

    Panthers 3, Thrashers 4  3rd - 16:43Nov 2 7:01 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLORIDA 0 2 2
    ATLANTA 1 3 4 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: ATL - VYACHESLAV KOZLOV 6 (GARNET EXELBY, TODD WHITE) 19:51
    2ND PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 4 (ERIK CHRISTENSEN, JASON WILLIAMS)
    5:05
    FLA - (PP) DAVID BOOTH 4 (JAY BOUWMEESTER) 6:47
    ATL - (PP) ILYA KOVALCH

    Nov 2 6:36 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 2
    ATLANTA 4
    2ND PRD: FLA - NATHAN HORTON 4 (ANTHONY STEWART, JASSEN CULLIMORE)
    18:20

    Panthers 2, Thrashers 4  2nd - 1:40Nov 2 6:33 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 1
    ATLANTA 4
    2ND PRD: ATL - BRYAN LITTLE 6 (ILYA KOVALCHUK) 17:00

    Panthers 1, Thrashers 4  2nd - 3:00Nov 2 6:30 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 1
    ATLANTA 3
    2ND PRD: ATL - (PP) ILYA KOVALCHUK 5 (ERIK CHRISTENSEN, TOBIAS
    ENSTROM) 10:39

    Panthers 1, Thrashers 3  2nd - 9:21Nov 2 6:20 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 1
    ATLANTA 2
    2ND PRD: FLA - (PP) DAVID BOOTH 4 (JAY BOUWMEESTER) 6:47

    Panthers 1, Thrashers 2  2nd - 13:13Nov 2 6:15 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 0
    ATLANTA 2
    2ND PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 4 (ERIK CHRISTENSEN, JASON WILLIAMS)
    5:05

    Panthers 0, Thrashers 2  2nd - 14:55Nov 2 6:09 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLORIDA 0 0
    ATLANTA 1 1 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: ATL - VYACHESLAV KOZLOV 6 (GARNET EXELBY, TODD WHITE) 19:51
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLA 4 4
    ATL 14 14
    GOALIES: FLA - TOMAS VOKOUN


    Nov 2 5:44 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 0
    ATLANTA 1
    1ST PRD: ATL - VYACHESLAV KOZLOV 6 (GARNET EXELBY, TODD WHITE) 19:51

    Panthers 0, Thrashers 1  1st - 0:09Nov 2 5:43 PM
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    Panthers vs. ThrashersNov 2 10:45 AM