Thrashers get first win since March 23, last season


SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- The Atlanta Thrashers didn't want to enter a four-day break with a winless streak hanging over their heads.

Frantisek Kaberle and Tony Hrkac each scored third-period goals as the Atlanta Thrashers snapped a 19-game winless streak by beating the Florida Panthers 3-1 Saturday night.

The Thrashers, who started the season 0-8-1-1, won for the first time since March 23 of last season against Ottawa. Their next game is Thursday at Chicago.

"You can't believe the pressure that was on these guys in the locker room,'' Atlanta coach Curt Fraser said. "They wanted to win. Our guys wanted to get out of this.''

Atlanta's Pasi Nurminen made 21 saves for his first win is three
starts (1-1-1).

"You always feel good when you play well and your team wins,'' Nurminen said. "Anytime you only face 22 shots, that's not much. You can win with that. Hopefully, this will get us going.''

Atlanta took a 2-1 lead 43 seconds into the third period.
Kristian Huselius tried to clear the puck from in front of the
crease but bumped Valeri Bure into Florida goalie Roberto Luongo.
With Luongo out of position, Tony Hrkac slid the puck in from the
right side.

"I was trying to steer the puck to the left but I touched it on the way down and it went backwards,'' Huselius said.

The Thrashers made it 3-1 with a shorthanded goal at 6:06 of the
third period. Kaberle finished a 2-on-1 by converting a pass from
Pascal Rheaume into a goal. Rheaume picked up the puck when it came
loose near the blue line and skated toward the net but passed the
puck to Kaberle.

"I saw someone who could score easier than me,'' Rheaume said. "We've been in a lot of close games this season but we kept losing them. It looks like everyone is finally on the same page.''

The win could take some pressure off Fraser, who's been under fire for the team's poor play.

"Our guys have seen how they need to play and what they need to do to be successful,'' Fraser said. "I believe now they will really start believing in each other.''

Atlanta's first goal came at 2:54 of the second period. Dany Heatley took a pass on the right side and threw the puck out front to Ilya Kovalchuk who poked in a shot from the left of the crease.

The Panthers tied it at 1 later in the period during a 5-on-3
power play. Sandis Ozolinsh passed the puck from the high slot to
Bure at the left of the crease and he scored into a corner.

Luongo (3-7-1) had already beaten Atlanta twice this season.

"When you face 32 shots but only take 22 shots, that's not
acceptable,'' Luongo said.

Game notes
Florida's Viktor Kozlov (ribs) saw his first action since
Oct. 15, and Peter Worrell (left thumb) returned after missing
three games. ... A broken water main resulted in no running water
or restroom facilities for the 13,722 fans in attendance. ...
Atlanta RW Lubos Bartecko left the game in the first period with a
sprained wrist and didn't return. ... The Thrashers lost the first
nine games of the season before a 3-3 tie against Toronto last
Wednesday. It was the longest season-opening winless streak since
San Jose went 11 games into the 1995-96 season.