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Marian Hossa scores two goals as Thrashers top Hurricanes 3-1

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Marian Hossa scores two goals as Thrashers top Hurricanes 3-1

The Canadian Press
By:

Marian Hossa scored two goals and Kari Lehtonen had 35 saves to help Atlanta beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 on Sunday.

The Thrashers moved into a tie with Tampa Bay for first place in the Southeast Division.

"Now that we're winning again, we have to keep it up. It's been a rollercoaster," Hossa said after scoring his 37th and 38th goals.

"It feels good to be back in first place," Lehtonen said.

Carolina, which had won the three previous games with the Thrashers in Atlanta this season, is five points behind the division leaders. The defending Stanley Cup champions are clinging to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"It was a huge game," Carolina goalie John Grahame said. "We're chasing them and a lot of other teams."

Keith Tkachuk, acquired along with defenceman Alexei Zhitnik just before the trade deadline, got his first point with Atlanta on Ilya Kovalchuk's power-play goal that broke a tie in the second period.

"We're climbing the ladder," Tkachuk said. "You want to produce. I came here to win."

Carolina had killed off 25 consecutive power plays before Kovalchuk's 34th goal of the season and 15th on the power play put the Thrashers ahead. The goal came just 19 seconds after Carolina's Andrew Ladd was called for hooking.

Hossa's second goal came midway in the third period on an assist from Bobby Holik. It was Holik's 700th career point.

A few minutes later, Hossa crashed into the boards and remained facedown on the ice.

"At first I thought it was something bad," Hossa said.

But he returned and almost had a third goal, missing an open net in the final seconds after Carolina pulled Grahame.

Hossa's breakaway goal gave the Thrashers the lead 9:59 into the game. The speedy right wing got the puck inside his own blue-line, split the Carolina defence and pushed the puck past Grahame.

The Hurricanes tied it with 18 seconds left in the first period. After a shot went wide, Ladd fed a pass from the boards to an open Rod Brind'Amour in the slot. The veteran centre chipped the puck over Lehtonen for his 21st goal.

The Thrashers' winning streak coincides with the arrival of Lehtonen's parents for a visit from Finland.

"I may not let them go home," Lehtonen said.

"Kari was great," Hartley said. "He put on a clinic."

Carolina was 0-for-4 on the power play and is in a 1-for-35 slump.

"We had lots of chances," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. "The opportunities were there, but that doesn't mean anything."

Notes: LW Ray Whitney, Carolina's leading scorer with 73 points, missed his first game of the season. He has a sore ankle. ... Hurricanes defenceman Bret Hedican sat out his second consecutive game because of an undisclosed lower-body injury. ... Erik Cole is on the Carolina injured list with a torn hip muscle suffered prior to a game with Atlanta on Feb. 20. The left wing is expected to miss another two weeks. ... Thrashers defenceman Steve McCarthy was a healthy scratch for the third consecutive game.

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Marian Hossa scores two goals as Thrashers top Hurricanes 3-1