LOS ANGELES – Erik Christensen didn’t let Ilya Kovalchuk’s two goals and an assist against the Los Angeles Kings go to waste.
After blowing a three-goal lead, Christensen scored in the fourth round of Monday’s shootout, to give the Atlanta Thrashers a 7-6 win. Atlanta is 4-0 in shootouts, and is the only team that hasn’t lost in that situation this season.
“We’re just doing things right. We’re shooting the puck and creating some traffic in front of the net, and the puck is going in,” Kovalchuk said. “But on the other side, we can’t give up six goals a game and three in the last 10 minutes. We need to work on that.”
Anze Kopitar scored his second power-play goal of the game for the Kings with five seconds left in the third period to force overtime. The penalty that set it up was a delay-of-game infraction against defenceman Ron Hainsey – whose delay-of-game penalty in the first period resulted in Jarret Stoll’s power-play goal.
The Kings scored a season-high four power-play goals against a penalty-killing unit that came in with the second-worst percentage in the league. The other was by Jack Johnson.
It was the second straight game that Los Angeles lost in a shootout after tying it in the final minute of regulation. On Saturday, Dustin Brown scored with 26 seconds left against Edmonton before the Kings lost 3-2.
“This time of year, you want to get two points, not just one,” Kopitar said. “Maybe we’re fortunate to get this one, but that’s not enough. To give up six goals at home, it definitely shouldn’t happen.”
Rookie defenceman Zach Bogosian had three assists for Atlanta. Bryan Little, Todd White, Marty Reasoner and Colin Stuart also scored for the Thrashers, who tied a franchise record with their fourth straight road win. Vyacheslav Kozlov had two assists, including his 800th NHL point.
Kovalchuk extended his goal-scoring streak to five games during a 5-on-3 power play at 5:50 of the first period and added his 29th with 16:28 remaining. He has 18 in his last 21 games following a career-worst nine-game drought, including a hat trick in Sunday’s 8-4 win at Anaheim.
The Thrashers have 14 regulation goals in their last two games, two more than the combined total in their previous nine contests.
“We’re lucky we’re scoring a lot of goals right now, because we’ve allowed 10 goals ourselves in these last two games,” Christensen said. “Tonight, we had a great start, but then we took some penalties and it was really tough. They’ve got a good hockey team with a lot of offensive guys, and we let them right back into the game.”
Thrashers backup goalie Johan Hedberg, starting for only the second time in 21 games since Dec. 30, made 39 saves. He came in 0-6-0 lifetime against the Kings with a 3.85 goals-against average.
Alexander Frolov had a goal and two assists for Los Angeles, defenceman Denis Gauthier ended a 123-game goal drought with his first since Dec. 31, 2005, and rookie Drew Doughty had two assists.
One night after getting a season-high 43 shots on net against the Ducks, the team with the league’s second-worst record connected on three of its first eight shots against the Kings and chased goalie Jonathan Quick to the bench at 7:41 of the opening period. It was the first time Quick was pulled by coach Terry Murray in 20 starts this season.
The Thrashers extended the margin to 3-0 with power-play goals by Kovalchuk and White. At that point, Quick was replaced by Erik Ersberg.
Stuart scored 43 seconds before intermission for a 5-3 lead and Atlanta’s sixth short-handed goal.
Johnson got the Kings on the board at 14:56 of the first. Reasoner, playing in his second game following a three-game benching, restored Atlanta’s three-goal margin just 33 seconds later.
Stoll cut the margin to 4-2 at 17:34 of the first with his 14th goal while Hainsey was serving a delay-of-game penalty. Frolov added his 23rd goal at 5:01 of the second.
“After the first period when we got that 3-0 lead pretty quick, I think we let up a bit and got outworked by them,” Little said. “They were playing really desperate, and we were running around a bit. That’s when they came back in the game, and that’s something we’ve got to get better at.”
Notes: The last time the Kings won a game after trailing by as many as three goals was Nov. 10, 2007, at Staples Center, when they scored five times in a 5:07 span of the third period against Dallas’ Marty Turco to overcome a 4-0 deficit and won 6-5 in overtime. … The Thrashers played at Staples Center for the first time since Jan. 19, 2006. … Kovalchuk, who has one year left on his contract, has 13 goals and four assists in 15 games since being named team captain on Jan. 11. The Thrashers are 7-8 during that stretch.