Thrashers beat Hurricanes

Associated Press
Atlanta Thrashers defenseman Niclas Havelid, left, of Sweden, vies for the puck against Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal (12) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, March 4, 2007, at Philips Arena in Atlanta. The Thrashers won 3-1.

ATLANTA - Marian Hossa scored two goals and Kari Lehtonen made 35 saves to help the Atlanta Thrashers beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 Sunday.

The Thrashers moved into a tie with Tampa Bay for first place in the Southeast Division. Carolina, which had won the three previous games with the Thrashers in Atlanta this season, is five points behind the division leaders and clinging to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Rod Brind'Amour scored in the closing seconds of the first period for the defending Stanley Cup champion Hurricanes.

The Thrashers have won three straight games since acquiring Keith Tkachuk and Alexei Zhitnik just before the trade deadline. Tkachuk got his first point with Atlanta on Ilya Kovalchuk's power-play goal that broke a tie in the second period.

Hossa had a chance for three goals, but missed an open net in the final seconds after Carolina pulled goalie John Grahame.

Hossa's second goal came on an assist from Bobby Holik for Holik's 700th career point.

Carolina had killed off 25 consecutive power plays before Kovalchuk's 34th goal of the season and 15th on the power play put the Thrashers ahead. The goal came just 19 seconds after Carolina's Andrew Ladd was called for hooking.

Hossa's breakaway goal gave the Thrashers the lead 9:59 into the game. The speedy right wing got the puck inside his own blue line, split the Carolina defense and got the puck past Grahame.

The Hurricanes tied it with 18 seconds left in the first period. After a shot went wide, Ladd fed a pass from the boards to an open Brind'Amour in the slot. The veteran center chipped the puck over Lehtonen for his 21st goal.

Notes: Ray Whitney, Carolina's leading scorer with 73 points, missed his first game of the season. The left wing has a sore ankle.... Hurricanes defenseman Bret Hedican sat out his second consecutive game because of an undisclosed lower-body injury.... Erik Cole is on the Carolina injured list with a torn hip muscle suffered prior to a game with Atlanta on Feb. 20. The left wing is expected to miss another two weeks.... Thrashers defenseman Steve McCarthy was a healthy scratch for the third consecutive game.

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