Kristian Huselius scored two goals, including the game-winner
with 1:27 left in the third period, as Florida defeated Atlanta 3-2
Olli Jokinen also scored for Florida, which snapped a three-game
losing streak. The Panthers, returning home from a four-game road
trip, have just two wins this season -- both against the Thrashers.
"It's very important in terms of building confidence and
getting feedback for the effort that they put in,'' Panthers coach
Mike Keenan said. "It's always a difficult game to play when you
come in off the road after you've been out for a week, and that's
even with the most experienced team.''
Huselius scored following a turnover near the red line. He moved
in and fired a wrist shot past Milan Hnilicka.
"It really doesn't matter if I score it or if somebody else
does,'' Huselius said. "We were coming off a tough road trip, so
this goes down as a huge win.''
Huselius was playing in only his third game of the season after
spraining his left knee at the beginning of training camp and
missing a month. Huselius has three goals this season.
"I'm happy just to be back out on the ice again, back in the
lineup and in a position to contribute,'' he said.
Atlanta took 28 shots, but the Thrashers turned the puck over
too much. Both of Huselius' third-period goals came after Atlanta
gave up the puck in its own end.
"It continues to be a problem,'' coach Curt Fraser said.
"We're in the right position, but at a key time of the game, we
decide to change things and wind up turning the puck over.
"You can't turn the pucks over like that, or be out of
position. We have to be stronger. If we have to cut the shots down
to 15 against, we'll have to find a way to do that,'' he said.
Atlanta took a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by Kovalchuk at
15:20 of the first period. Andy Sutton's shot from just inside the
blue line wound up loose outside the net, and Kovalchuk knocked it
Jokinen tied it 1-all for Florida in the second period at 3:53.
Marcus Nilson worked the puck from behind the net, and Jokinen slid
it under the stick and leg of Hnilicka.
The Thrashers took a 2-1 lead with 1:29 left in the second on
Butsayev's first goal of the season. Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo
was caught out of position behind the net as Butsayev outhustled
three opponents to the puck and slapped it in.
Florida tied it at 2 on Huselius' goal at 5:48 of the third.
Defenseman Kirill Safronov turned the puck over just inside the
blue line, and Huselius ripped a shot between Hnilicka's legs.
Now that he's healthy and back in the lineup, the Panthers are
hoping that Huselius can spark the offense. He returned to the
lineup against the Blackhawks last Thursday and scored on his first
"He's a goal scorer, and once he gets his confidence, he'll
really put the puck in the net,'' Keenan said. "He's a pure goal
scorer, so you have to give him the ice time to give him the
confidence to get back to where he wants to be.''
The Panthers were without D Lance Ward, who was suspended
one game without pay for his elbow against Blue Jackets F Tyler
Wright on Saturday. ... Florida has allowed nine power-play goals
in six games. ... Atlanta forwards Vyacheslav Kozlov and Dany
Heatley each had their five-game point streaks snapped. ... The
Thrashers have scored eight power-play goals in their last five