Since Feb. 21, Carolina has won 10 of 12, including three victories over the Thrashers.
The Southeast Division-leading Hurricanes, who improved to 5-1-1 against Atlanta this season, led 3-0 after Staal beat goaltender Johan Hedberg with a wrister from the slot 13:33 into the first period.
Carolina goaltender Cam Ward stopped 31 of 34 shots in his 13th consecutive start.
Atlanta has won only two of its past 15 games. Slava Kozlov had a goal, his 17th, in the final minute and assisted on Bryan Little's fifth goal in the second.
RED WINGS 3, BLUE JACKETS 1
In Detroit, Henrik Zetterberg scored three goals in the third period to lift Detroit over Columbus. It was his third career hat trick.
Zetterberg, who has 39 goals, tied the game at 1-1 at 6:43 into the third period with a spectacular effort. He took the puck from his own blue line into the Columbus zone, where he skated past defensemen Jan Hejda and Rostislav Klesla before backhanding the puck past goaltender Fredrik Norrena.
Zetterberg's second goal came on the power play with 1:54 left when he scored on a one-timer from the left circle.
He completed his hat trick with 1:19 left when he stole the puck from Jiri Novotny in the neutral zone, made a fake on Norrena and put the puck into the empty net.
SABRES 7, LIGHTNING 4
In Buffalo, N.Y., Thomas Vanek and Jochen Hecht scored twice during Buffalo's six-goal third period, capping the Sabres' comeback victory.
Jason Pominville had two goals and two assists and the Sabres scored six times on their final 10 shots to overcome a 4-1 deficit.
Derek Roy had a goal and two assists and Drew Stafford set up three goals in helping Buffalo inch within a point of Philadelphia for the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff berth.
RANGERS 2, DEVILS 1 (SO)
In Newark, N.J., Chris Drury scored the tying goal with 4:46 left in regulation, and Nigel Dawes beat Martin Brodeur in the shootout to give New York the win.
New York tied Ottawa in points in the Eastern Conference playoff race but is still in sixth place because of one fewer win.
ISLANDERS: Goaltender Rick DiPietro will miss the rest of the season because of hip surgery.