ATLANTA – Compared to the reception he had in Pittsburgh, Marian Hossa enjoyed his return to Atlanta.
“It was kind of mixed in the crowd, more favourable than Pittsburgh,” Hossa said. “Obviously, we played a pretty good game until the end. We allowed a few extra goals in the net.”
Former Atlanta star Hossa scored his 36th goal, and Johan Franzen had a goal and two assists to help the Detroit Red Wings win their fourth straight, 6-3 over the Thrashers on Friday night.
Playing his first game in Atlanta since the Thrashers traded him last year to the Penguins, Hossa was booed by maybe half of the capacity crowd at Philips Arena.
The building, however, was about half-full of Detroit fans for the defending Stanley Cup champion’s first visit to Georgia since Dec. 13, 2005.
“I played lots of games on this rink,” Hossa said. “It was a mix of cheers and boos. I’m enjoying the atmosphere. The fans were great. It’s always good for every player to score against a former team.”
Chris Osgood stopped 31 shots to earn his fourth consecutive victory. The Red Wings, who lead the NHL with 105 points, have won five straight on the road to improve to 22-10-5 away from Joe Louis Arena.
“Osgood made some great saves in the first period,” Thrashers first-year coach John Anderson said. “Games change complexion when one team is down or us and if we had gotten up, it might have changed the way we played.”
Brian Rafalski, Pavel Datsyuk, Jiri Hudler and Daniel Cleary also scored for Detroit, and Henrik Zetterberg had a career-high four assists.
Bryan Little, Colin Stuart and Slava Kozlov scored for Atlanta.
“We had some chances in the first on the power play that we didn’t score on,” said Kozlov, a former Red Wing. “They were very strong on the penalty kill. They dominated in both their zone and our zone tonight. Osgood was very strong for them tonight.”
The Thrashers have lost two straight after winning a franchise-best six straight. Goalie Kari Lehtonen lost for the first time in five starts. He made 32 saves.
Franzen, who assisted on the first two goals, scored on a power play midway through the third. His 30th goal gave the Red Wings centre 28 points in his last 32 games.
“We played a solid game,” Franzen said. “Overall, we did an OK job, but could have spent more time in their end. Things went our way.”
Arguably the best chance Atlanta had to stay within reach of the lead came 11:51 into the second when Ilya Kovalchuk’s wrister from the left circle went under Osgood’s pads but sailed just beyond the right goalpost.
On the ensuing possession 13 seconds later, Pavel Datsyuk beat Lehtonen’s stick side for his 29th goal and 2-0 lead. Franzen, who assisted on the first two goals, made it 3-0 about six minutes later.
“I was really happy with Zetterberg,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He had a real big night here. It was big for him, it was important.”
For Hossa, who was booed loudly and often when he returned to Pittsburgh earlier this season, appreciates playing for a team with so much offensive capacity.
“It just shows how this team is special,” Hossa said. “Not a lot of teams have four 30-goal scorers. It’s nice to see lots of guys contribute by scoring goals. Every night it’s somebody else taking up the slack. It’s not always the same guys, which is huge for the team.”
Notes: Atlanta’s frustration was evident with 2:17 remaining. D Garnet Exelby was assessed a 10-minute misconduct as he involved himself a fight between teammate Nathan Oystrick and Detroit’s Mikael Samuelsson. … Hudler’s goal was his first in 15 games. … Red Wings C Valtteri Filppula returned after missing two games with a sore back.