Originally created 12/15/01

Thrashers fall to Blackhawks



ATLANTA -- Chicago coach Brian Sutter told his top players to make a difference against the Atlanta Thrashers, and Tony Amonte and Alex Zhamnov followed instructions.

Each had a goal and two assists in a 3-1 victory Friday night.

Jocelyn Thibault stopped 30 shots for the Blackhawks, who won for the fourth time in six games.

It was the first game of a four-game road trip for Chicago, which is trying to improve its road record (5-8-4). The Blackhawks are 11-2-4 at home.

Atlanta, which has the fewest wins in the NHL with 6, is winless in its last six games.

"It's nice to be challenged sometimes," Amonte said. "He told us we were going up against those kids over there and we took that as a challenge against that line ... It's the start of a four-game trip for us and we wanted to start it off right. There were a lot of incentives out there for us tonight."

Atlanta's "kids", rookie forwards Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk, are 1-2 in the league in rookie scoring, but they were no match for veterans Amonte and Zhamnov, each with 12 goals this season.

"(Sutter) wanted us to be the best players on the ice," Zhamnov said.

Atlanta coach Curt Fraser wasn't disappointed in his team's effort.

"Effort-wise that's about as good as we can go," Fraser said. "The effort was great, but it's still frustrating. We gave everything we had and still came up short."

Chicago took a 1-0 lead in the first period when Zhamnov bounced a shot off teammate Amonte then collected the rebound and fired it past goaltender Milan Hnilicka.

The Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead at 5:42 of the second when Zhamnov took the puck from right to left in front of the Atlanta goal then passed back to defenseman Boris Mironov who whipped a shot past Hnilicka.

The Thrashers Tony Hrkac made it 2-1 midway through the second period when he controlled the hard rebound of Yannick Tremblay's missed shot and rifled in a shot from 15 feet. It was his third goal in four games.

Amonte made it 3-1 with 6:38 to play with a wraparound goal.

Notes: Atlanta D Jiri Slegr, who was activated from injured reserve Friday, suffered an MCL sprain of his right knee in the second period and didn't return. He will be re-evaluated Saturday. ... The Blackhawks are unbeaten when leading after two periods (13-0-1). ... Heatley and Kovalchuk rank first and second among league rookies with 26 and 25 points, respectively.