A night after scoring a career-high four goals against Tampa
Bay, Kovalchuk had two more goals to help the Thrashers set a
franchise scoring record in a 9-0 victory over Southeast
Division-leading Carolina on Saturday night.
"Kovalchuk started us again with another of his rockets,"
Atlanta coach Bob Hartley said. "Then we just kept building and
they got into penalty problems and we took advantage of them."
The Thrashers, who broke the team mark of eight goals, snapped
Carolina's franchise-record winning streak at nine games. It was
Carolina's first loss since falling in overtime at Toronto on Oct.
20 and its first loss of the season at home.
Atlanta scored on its first two shots, with Kovalchuk and Scott
Mellanby beating Martin Gerber. Gerber, who had two shutouts in his
previous three games, was pulled after Mellanby's goal with 9:03
left in the period.
The loss was the worst for the Hurricanes since the team moved
from Hartford. Mike Dunham played the first period in goal for
Atlanta and stopped all five shots he faced before being relieved
by Adam Berkhoel with a 5-0 lead at the start of the second period.
Dunham left for precautionary reasons because of a sore groin.
Kovalchuk opened the scoring a with a low slap shot from just
inside the blue line at 8:25 of the first. Mellanby made it 2-0 at
Cam Ward relieved Gerber with the Hurricanes down 2-0. But Ward
didn't fare much better because of a soft defensive effort in front
of him, according to Carolina coach Peter Laviolette.
"It's not the goalies," Laviolette said. "It was the team. We
lost tonight. Let's leave it at that."
Bobby Holik, Jim Slater and Kovalchuk rounded out Atlanta's
first-period scoring for a 5-0 lead. In the second period, Marian Hossa and Greg de Vries scored. Serge Aubin and Peter Bondra scored
in the third.
"Sometimes that happens," Bondra said. "I know how it feels
to lose eight or nine to nothing. It can be frustrating but it was
good for us. This was a team that was hot the last nine games. It
seemed like any puck we touched went our way."
Marc Savard had four assists for Atlanta and became Atlanta's
leading scorer with 24 points.
"The turning point was the 5-on-3 that we killed early,"
Hartley said. "If they scored on that they're a confident team and
they would have built on that goal. Our penalty killing has been
very good and we got some saves from Dunham on that 5- on-3."
Carolina was held to a season-low 19 shots and committed a
season-high 17 penalties for 53 penalty minutes. The Thrashers were
4-of-13 with the man advantage.
Carolina was shut out at home for the first time since
losing 3-0 to Columbus on March 2, 2004 ... Atlanta had its first
shutout on the road since March 27, 2004, against Florida. ...
Atlanta, which outshot the Hurricanes 36-19, has outshot seven of
its last nine opponents. ... Carolina's Eric Staal was held
pointless for the first time in 10 games.