Originally created 10/24/06

Kovalchuk leads Atlanta to victory



SUNRISE, Fla. - Ilya Kovalchuk scored three power-play goals Monday night to help the Atlanta Thrashers continue the best start in franchise history with a 6-3 victory over the Florida Panthers.

Atlanta, 7-1-1, has 15 points, the most ever for the Thrashers in October.

Marian Hossa and Steve Rucchi also scored on the power play for the Thrashers, who also got a goal from former Florida captain Scott Mellanby. Vyacheslav Kozlov had four assists.

Atlanta finished 5-for-7 on the power play. The Thrashers entered the game 4-for-31 with the man advantage.

Florida, which entered the game first in the league in power-play efficiency at 27.9, was 0-for-6.

Joel Kwiatkowski, Bryan Allen and Jozef Stumpel scored for Florida, which lost at home for the first time in five games.

Atlanta is 3-0 against Florida this season. The Thrashers beat the Panthers 4-2 at Atlanta on Saturday night.

Kari Lehtonen, who has started every game for Atlanta, made 25 saves.

SABRES 4, CANADIENS 1

In Montreal, Chris Drury scored his 10th goal and Buffalo set a team record by extending its season-opening winning streak to nine games with a win over Montreal.

Buffalo moved to within one victory of tying Toronto's league record of 10 consecutive wins at the start of the 1993-94 season. The Sabres matched their previous record of eight, set in 1975-76, with a 6-2 win in Boston on Saturday.

SHARKS 3, BLUE JACKETS 0

In Columbus, Ohio, Vesi Toskala ran his winning streak to 12 games with his fifth career shutout as San Jose won.

Steve Bernier, Jonathan Cheechoo and Marcel Goc each had goals for the Sharks.

Toskala is 5-0-0 this season while allowing just under two goals a game with a .926 save percentage. The 12-game winning streak is the longest in Sharks history. He has also won his last eight starts on the road.

Columbus has lost four consecutive games while being outscored 17-5.

AVALANCHE 6, KINGS 1

In Denver, Milan Hejduk had two goals and an assist as Colorado scored five second-period goals to cruise past Los Angeles.

Paul Stastny had a goal and two assists and John-Michael Liles and Marek Svatos added a goal and assist each. Goaltender Peter Budaj stopped 27 shots for Colorado, which also got a goal from Andrew Brunette in winning for the third time in four games.

Derek Armstrong had his first goal of the season for the Kings.