ATLANTA – The Florida Panthers had a near-perfect second period and were rewarded.
Rookie Michael Frolik scored two goals, Stephen Weiss had three assists and the Panthers held off the Atlanta Thrashers 4-3 on Tuesday night. Cory Stillman and Richard Zednik also scored as the Panthers moved into fifth place in the Eastern Conference, one point behind idle Montreal.
The Panthers, who trailed 2-1 after the opening period, outscored the Thrashers 3-0 in the second period.
“We were able to get that two-goal lead, which was enough for the two points, and definitely a turning point for us,” Weiss said.
“Atlanta is an offensively potent team, and you have to be real weary of them,” Florida coach Peter DeBoer said. “We bent, but we didn’t break, and found a way to score some goals.”
The Thrashers have scored 33 goals in their last eight games.
Ilya Kovalchuk pulled Atlanta to 4-3 with 2:59 left with his 35th goal but the Panthers held on for their second straight win and third in four games. Kovalchuk has goals (14) in 10 of his last 11 games.
Colby Armstrong and Jim Slater also scored for Atlanta, which fell to 11-18-2 at Philips Arena for an NHL-low 24 points at home.
“I thought we had a little bit of poise. We messed up a few times but the goals that were scored on us were because our forwards didn’t pick up the lead coming into the second period,” Atlanta coach John Anderson said.
Frolik scored his 16th goal in the opening period as Atlanta took a 2-1 lead on goals by Armstrong (16) and Slater (6).
Frolik added his second goal and 17th at 2:41 of the second period to tie it 2-2, beating Atlanta goaltender Kari Lehtonen with a backhander off a shot by Jay Bouwmeester.
“I got some good rebounds,” Frolik said. “If you can come back twice in a game like that, it’s great. These were very important points for us.”
Stillman scored his 13th at 14:51 and Zednik got his 14th with 50 seconds left in the period for a 4-2 lead. Weiss, who has a team-high 48 points and 37 assists, drew assists on the first three goals.
Atlanta opened the scoring only 2:19 into the game when Armstrong knocked in a rebound of a shot by Eric Christensen to easily beat Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun, who was playing for the first time after missing four games with an inner ear problem.
Frolik tied it 1-1 less than two minutes later before Slater scored at 6:38 for a 2-1 Atlanta lead.
Notes: It was Slater’s first game back after missing 15 games with a shoulder injury. … Panthers LW Cory Stillman returned after missing three games with an ankle injury and LW David Booth missed the game with sore ribs. … Kovalchuk was coming off a career-tying five-point game in a 5-3 win over Carolina on Saturday night. He has five goals and five assists in his last four games. … Florida, a 6-2 winner over Washington on Sunday, had alternated wins and losses over its past nine games before Tuesday night’s win.