Carolina Hurricanes center Jiri Tlusty, left, celebrates with teammate Patrick Dwyer, right, after scoring a goal in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Atlanta Thrashers Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
ATLANTA - Thanks to late heroics by Erik Cole and excellent goaltending by Cam Ward, the Carolina Hurricanes racked up another win against the Atlanta Thrashers.
Cole scored with 1:19 remaining in the third period and Ward made 41 saves as Carolina won 3-2 on Sunday to snap a three-game losing streak.
The Hurricanes have won five straight over the Thrashers, including four in a row this season, and their last five at Philips Arena.
"We have been fortunate (against Thrashers). We've had some good battles against them," Cole said. "They always seem to be one-goal games. We usually find a way to win them."
Cole was right. All four have been one-goal games. The Hurricanes beat Atlanta 3-2 at Philips on Dec. 16, 4-3 in overtime on Jan. 9 at home, 4-3 in overtime at home on Feb. 5 and this one.
Cole beat Ondrej Pavelec for his 16th goal and the Hurricanes got a much-needed victory despite being outshot 43-17 in the game and 14-4 in the final period.
"Cam has their number. But he has a lot of teams' number. He's the reason we're where we are," Cole said.
"There's a lot of hockey still to be played. It's going to be a tough race to the finish," Ward said.
As for the barrage of shots by the Thrashers, Ward said: "I just try to get ready for the next shot. I try my best to keep things under control."
The Thrashers have lost 12 of 15 (3-8-4) and fell two points behind the Hurricanes in the battle for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"It's a tough one, obviously. I thought we played well for the majority of the game. But there's still a lot of hockey to be played. We've got to put it behind us and move on," Atlanta's Andrew Ladd said.
"You know what? Every game is important. If we would have beaten Carolina but then lost the next four games it doesn't mean anything," Pavelec said. "It doesn't matter who you play, every game is important."
Atlanta tied it 2-2 on Ladd's 19th goal and second of the game, beating Ward only 26 seconds into the final period. He took the puck near mid-ice, came in alone and converted a backhander in close, similar to his goal in the second period.
Despite being outshot 20-5 in the second, the Hurricanes took a 2-1 lead on a goal by Joe Corvo with 1:36 left in the period. He sent a shot past Pavelec after passes by Jeff Skinner and Brandon Sutter.
The Thrashers had tied it 1-1 on an unassisted goal by Ladd at the 3:20 mark. Ladd took the puck at mid-ice and faked Ward to the ice before tucking a backhander into the net.
Jiri Tlusty had the only goal of the opening period at 9:06. Joni Pitkanen and Sergei Samsonov had assists on Tlusty's fifth goal of the season.
The Hurricanes had lost five of six overall and seven of eight on the road.
NOTES: Atlanta D Dustin Byfuglien saved a potential Carolina goal late in the first period by clearing the puck away about a foot in front of the net. ... The Thrashers narrowly missed a goal early in the second period when Bryan Little's shot hit the post. ... Atlanta recalled F Spencer Machachek from Chicago (AHL) and placed D Freddy Meyer on injured reserve, retroactive to Feb. 3. ... Ward has started 16 straight games.