Kovalchuk held scoreless again


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The Carolina Hurricanes followed up their
worst game of the season with an uncharacteristic power-play surge.

Erik Cole scored 26 seconds in, and Josef Vasicek and Rod
Brind'Amour added key power-play goals Thursday night to lead the
Hurricanes to a 5-1 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers.

"We didn't necessarily play that good through two periods, but
our power play gave us some confidence tonight instead of letting
us down," forward Jeff O'Neill said. "We kind of fed off those

Carolina snapped a nine-game winless streak against Southeast
Division opponents, dating to Feb. 14, and extended its home
unbeaten streak to four (3-0-1).

The Hurricanes came in next-to-last in the NHL with the man
advantage, but were able to score three power-play goals for the
first time this season in rebounding from a 7-1 loss at Washington
on Wednesday.

"Our players did a very good job understanding the importance
of a good start," coach Paul Maurice said. "That (Cole) goal was
concrete evidence they were ready to play."

Ron Francis added Carolina's third power-play goal with 5:52
left on a two-man advantage. Kevyn Adams rounded out the scoring
two minutes later.

Meanwhile, Atlanta, off to its best start in franchise history,
fell to 2-5-1 in its last eight.

Ilya Kovalchuk, the NHL's leading goal scorer with 13, was held
without a point in consecutive games for the first time this

The Hurricanes were up 2-1 during a sloppy second period before
the Thrashers were called for a bench penalty for abusive language
with 18 seconds left.

It appeared Carolina would head into the locker room with a
one-goal lead as the puck was dumped into its zone, but one last
rush resulted in Brind'Amour's goal with less than a second

"Goals in the first and last minute of periods are huge
momentum swingers," Maurice said. "Going into that room leading
3-1 instead of 2-1 is a big difference."

Cole assisted on Brind'Amour's goal and leads Carolina with 13
points in 15 games.

Cole scored Carolina's quickest goal of the season, taking a
pass out of the corner from Craig Adams and beating Pasi Nurminen
with a backhander on the game's first shift.

Atlanta tied it less than three minutes later as Patrik Stefan
got his fourth after a wild scramble in front of Kevin Weekes.

The Thrashers then took two undisciplined penalties on the same
play midway through the period when Nurminen and Francis Lessard roughed up Kevyn Adams.

Vasicek scored 19 seconds into the five-on-three power play,
notching his team-leading eighth goal.

"Anytime you face a five-on-three, it's no fun," Stefan said.
"You give the other team a chance to get something going.

"We knew they would be coming hard after us after the
Washington loss," he added.

Game Notes: Atlanta recalled veteran LW Bill Lindsay before the game.
... The Thrashers had their streak of 15 straight penalty kills
snapped on Vasicek's goal. ... Francis earned his first power-play
assist this season. ... The game drew just 8,674, Carolina's fourth
crowd under 10,000 in eight home dates.