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Atlanta wins meeting of NHL's worst

12/1/2001

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- Shean Donovan ended his scoring drought,
and extended the Florida Panthers' losing streak in the process.

Donovan scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner at
7:18 of the third, as the Atlanta Thrashers defeated the Panthers
5-2 on Saturday. He hadn't scored a goal since notching three in
the first two games of the season.

"It's been a little while," Donovan said. "I hope it carries
on."

Lubos Bartecko, Brad Tapper and Bob Corkum also had goals as
Atlanta sent Florida to its fourth straight loss.

"I think we outcompeted them a little bit," Atlanta goalie
Milan Hnilicka said. "That's why we won."

Kristian Huselius scored a pair of power-play goals for the
Panthers, who have been outscored 25-5 in their last five losses.

The game was a matchup of teams with the worst records in the
NHL. Atlanta entered with an NHL-low 14 points, and Florida had 17.

Donovan, who notched his second multi-goal game of the year,
flipped a back-hander over a sprawled Trevor Kidd to put Atlanta up
3-2.

Tapper added a goal 1:42 later when he sent the puck into the
left side of the net and Corkum added an empty-netter for his first
score of the year with 40 seconds remaining.

"Oh, believe me, we're nowhere out of this," Atlanta coach
Curt Fraser said. "It's nice that we're .500 in our last six
games, but by no means are we anywhere where we want to be."

Atlanta trailed early but came back to take a 2-1 lead after two
periods before Huselius tied it.

Florida coach Duane Sutter said his team had plenty of chances.

"After 40 minutes, we should have been up about 4-0," Sutter
said. "We probably doubled them in chances, so you guys can draw
your own conclusions from that."

Huselius' second goal came 2:43 into the third. Marcus Nilson
sent the puck from the right circle to Huselius, who was on the
left edge of the crease and poked it in past Hnilicka.

Viktor Kozlov assisted on both of Huselius' scores giving him
team highs in assists (12) and points (18).

The Panthers, coming off a 6-0 loss at Minnesota on Thursday,
took a 1-0 lead on Huselius' first score. The goal, which came at
3:14 of the second, glanced off the left post before bouncing into
the net.

"We had some great chances," Huselius said. "It's almost
unfair to play that well and lose."

Hnilicka, who made 31 saves, has had one victory in his last
nine starts (1-7-1).

"I felt good," he said. "We were getting good bounces."

Atlanta tied it at 1 on Bartecko's third goal of the year at
9:39 of the second past Kidd's glove side. Kidd started in place of
Roberto Luongo, who had allowed 13 goals in his three previous
starts.

With 2:12 left in the second, Donovan gave Atlanta its first
lead when, with defenseman Jeff Norton clinging to him, he got off
a shot that went right under Kidd's right arm and into the net.

"I just tried to skate as hard as I could," Donovan said. "I
just tried to one-hand it. It got over his pad. I got lucky."

Game notes

Florida expects right wing Pavel Bure (concussion) to be
back in the lineup for Wednesday's game against Columbus. ...
Florida left wing Peter Worrell was scratched after he injured his
back in Thursday's loss at Minnesota. ... Atlanta left wing Tomi
Kallio suffered a concussion with 14:53 remaining in the first when
he was blindsided into the boards by Florida's Lance Ward. ...
Florida center Nick Smith, 22, made his NHL debut Saturday. ...
Twelve of Florida's 17 power-play goals have come at home.