Naslund on scoring streak since birth of his son


ATLANTA (AP) -- Markus Naslund figures if he has to be away from
his wife and newborn son, he might as well spend the time

The Vancouver captain scored two goals as the Canucks beat the
Atlanta Thrashers 4-2 Saturday night to stay in the thick of the
playoff hunt.

Naslund, who had gone a month without scoring while waiting for
his wife to give birth, has now scored three goals in two games
since son Alex was born.

"Obviously it was in the back of my mind," Naslund said of
feeling distracted before the birth. "I was worried about making
it back in time, but now that I was there and everybody is healthy,
it is easier to relax."

Naslund, who also marked the one-year anniversary of the broken
leg that ended his season last year, added his parental worries
were just part of his scoring slump.

He's also feeling the toll of a long rehab on the leg, plus
playing in the grueling trio of the NHL season, the All-Star Game,
and the Olympics.

"I think it was a lot of things together," he said. "But, you
know, it's been a long season for everybody."

It was the third consecutive victory for the Canucks, who have
outscored their opponents 14-3 halfway through a six-game road
trip. Granted, those games have been against three teams -- Nashville, Columbus and Atlanta -- in the bottom fourth of the
league standings.

Nevertheless, the streak has kept Vancouver in the hunt for a
playoff spot. But if the Canucks are going to make the playoffs,
it'll have to be done playing nine of their last 17 on the road.
They are 8-2 in their last 10 road games -- and they won't give any
of the points back based on the level of competition.

"These games are huge for us," said Vancouver goalie Dan
Cloutier, who faced only 16 shots. "Every game is a playoff-type
game for us. In this league, you can't take any teams lightly.
You've got to go out and win every one of them."

One game after outshooting the Northwest Division-leading
Colorado Avalanche in a 2-0 victory, the Thrashers were back to
doing things in their normal fashion: getting badly outshot (40-16)
and losing. The Thrashers have been outshot in 57 of 69 games. Then
again, they are only 1-7-1-1 when they outshoot their opponent and
0-2 when even.

"Everybody saw this week when Colorado came in here and lost,"
Cloutier said. "You can't take any nights off in this league,
because a team like Atlanta can hurt you. Everybody's playing for
spots in the lineup next season."

Thanks to Naslund's early goals, Vancouver was tied 1-1 after
one period and 2-2 after two.

Daniel Sedin converted a pass from twin brother Henrik for his
ninth of the season at 6:38 of the third, staking the Canucks to
the lead.

Artem Chubarov scored the final goal, his fourth, at 16:28 of
the third during a pileup in the crease. The play was reviewed and

"Vancouver's been riding a high wave," Atlanta coach Curt
Fraser said. "The last couple of games they played, they played
excellent ... just rolling over the top of teams. They're a big
hockey club and they have some good pieces over there."

Naslund scored just 1:42 into the game. Walking in from the
right corner, he sidestepped Patrik Stefan and a stick check from
Milan Hnilicka before flipping in his 29th of the season.

The Thrashers evened the score at 17:01 on J.P. Vigier's second
career goal and second in as many games.

Hnilicka kept the Thrashers in the game as they were outshot
16-7 in the first period, 13-6 in the second and 11-3 in the third.

Nevertheless, they led 2-1 when Lubos Bartecko scored at 14:36
of the second period.

Naslund would tie it with his 30th at 17:55 on a power play dash
through the Atlanta defense. He deked Hnilicka to the ice to reach
the 30-goal plateau for the third time in four seasons.

"The big difference was their second goal," Hnilicka said. "I
felt we should have not been shorthanded. There shouldn't have been
a penalty (a tripping call on Stefan)."

Naslund put another puck in the net with one second left in the
period, but it was disallowed because he snatched it out of the air
with his hand and tossed it in.

Game notes
Thrashers captain Ray Ferraro has no points in 11 games
since Feb. 8, remaining tied with Butch Goring at 78th on the
career list with 888. ... Atlanta has killed off 44 of its last
47 short-handed situations. ... Vancouver center Trevor Linden has 31
points in 51 games since being traded back there. He is four goals
behind Stan Smyl (262-258) for the franchise goal-scoring record.