Kovalchuk's two goals help Atlanta past Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The Atlanta Thrashers are quite comfortable
on the Carolina Hurricanes' home ice.

Ilya Kovalchuk had two goals and two assists, and Marian Hossa
scored the go-ahead goal to lead the Thrashers past the Hurricanes
5-2 on Sunday, giving Atlanta its second road win in two tries
against Carolina.

Marc Savard and Jean-Pierre Vigier also had goals for the
Thrashers, and rookie Michael Garnett made 27 saves to earn his
third win.

Not bad for a team that came in 11 points behind the Southeast
Division-leading Hurricanes, who are suddenly struggling after a
quick start.

"Against some teams, you just feel good," Hossa said. "I
think our team feels good against this team and when we see them we
just keep going."

Atlanta ended Carolina's franchise-record, nine-game winning
streak with a 9-0 victory two weeks ago, which was also the
Hurricanes' first home loss. Kovalchuk scored a pair of goals in
that one and had another good day against the Hurricanes.

He got plenty of help, especially from the 23-year-old Garnett
who came in allowing 4.73 goals per game. He made 16 saves in
Atlanta's 7-4 win against Florida on Saturday and followed that
with a solid performance against Carolina.

"He looked like an NHL goalie," Atlanta coach Bob Hartley
said. "He felt very comfortable. Right now his confidence should
be at the top. He's a good worker and a good kid and he's paid his
dues in the organization, so the time has come for him to collect
the reward."

Rookie Andrew Ladd and Aaron Ward scored for the Hurricanes, who
have lost four of five heading into a six-game road trip that
begins Tuesday at Atlanta.

Hossa put the Thrashers ahead to stay with a breakaway goal.
Shane Hnidy sent a pass along the boards that Peter Bondra
deflected away from Rod Brind'Amour and Mike Commodore into open
ice. Hossa corralled the rolling puck and skated in to beat Martin
Gerber for a 3-2 lead at 12:19 of the third.

Kovalchuk sealed the win about 3 minutes later, stealing the
puck from Eric Staal and skating away from Carolina's young star
for a second breakaway goal. Staal tried to slow Kovalchuk by
slashing him hard enough to snap his stick, but Kovalchuk didn't
seem to notice as he went on to beat Gerber for a 4-2 lead.

"Those things are all about timing," Hartley said. "I thought
for the first 10 minutes it was tough for both sides to get some
shots. Both teams were playing very strong defensively. You have to
fight for every inch, and suddenly a puck came loose."

The Hurricanes struggled again on the power play, going 0-for-6.
It was the third time in five games that Carolina couldn't score
with the man advantage, dropping Carolina to 2-for-24 on the power
play in the past four games.

"I thought we had some pretty good shots on our power play,"
Carolina winger Justin Williams said. "We put a lot of pucks to
the net. Unfortunately we weren't able to convert."

Atlanta got off to a good start, scoring the first two goals in
the opening 8 minutes. Kovalchuk stole a pass from Williams during
a power play, then sent the puck across the zone to Savard, who
knocked a shot past Gerber from the left side at 4:21.

Kovalchuk pushed the lead to 2-0 a few minutes later. He
corralled a puck that bounced off the boards from behind the net,
then fired a shot that squeezed past Gerber in the upper right
corner of the goal.

The Hurricanes closed the gap when Ladd -- the No. 4 pick in the
2004 draft -- scored for the second straight game when Williams
tried to connect with Brind'Amour on a pass from behind the net.
The puck slipped by the Hurricanes captain, but Ladd was waiting in
between the circles and beat Garnett with a straightaway shot at
15:01 of the period.

Ward tied it late in the second, grabbing Brind'Amour's pass for
Ladd that caromed off the boards and slapping a shot from the right
side past Garnett at 18:11 of the second.

Game notes
Williams' assist on Ladd's goal pushed his point streak to
seven games. ... Kovalchuk's assist on Savard's first-period goal
marked his third straight game with an assist and extended his
point streak to six. ... Atlanta has outscored opponents 35-23 in
the final period.