ATLANTA – If Ilya Kovalchuk plays this well with a gimpy right foot, how much better will he perform when he’s 100 per cent?
Kovalchuk hardly seems to care. The Atlanta captain knows he and the Thrashers can only improve. “Oh, definitely,” he said. “It’s still going to take me time to heal all the way.”
Kovalchuk and Maxim Afinogenov each had two goals and two assists to help the Thrashers beat the Los Angeles Kings 7-0 on Friday night for their third straight victory.
Atlanta rookie Evander Kane, the fourth overall draft pick, also scored two goals and had an assist. His fifth goal made it 1-0 at the 10:22 mark of the second. His sixth was a short-handed goal that ended the scoring with 3:26 remaining.
Kovalchuk, who returned the night before in New York from a broken foot bone that sidelined him for three weeks, finished with a goal and two assists in Thursday’s 5-3 win over the Rangers.
“The most important thing is we got four points in the bank,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who scores.”
The Kings, who have lost three of four, outshot Atlanta 38-21, but couldn’t keep Ondrej Pavelec from getting his first career shutout.
“I didn’t play in the last two games, and we won, so I needed to keep it up,” Pavelec said. “We played great hockey tonight.”
Afinogenov and Kane each had a goal and an assist during a 5:04 stretch of the second period that included Kings goalie Jonathan Quick getting chased and major penalties and game misconducts to Atlanta’s Chris Thorburn and Los Angeles’ Raitis Ivanans.
Kings forward Justin Williams was assessed a major and a game misconduct for checking from behind with 1:59 remaining.
“When it got to 4-0, everybody was frustrated,” Los Angeles coach Terry Murray said. “Nobody wants to let a game get out of control. Nobody wants to get physical, but the score of the game dictates a lot of that.”
Kovalchuk scored his 11th goal 12:28 into the second to make it 2-0. His 12th goal came on the power play with 14 minutes remaining to pad the lead at 5-0.
“The most important thing is we got four points,” Kovalchuk said. “It doesn’t matter who scores.”
After defenseman Zach Bogosian’s seventh goal put the Thrashers ahead 3-0 at the 14:16 mark, Murray pulled Quick and brought in Erik Ersberg.
Kane’s fifth goal, a wide wraparound outside the left goal post, slid between Quick’s legs to make it 1-0 at the 10:22 mark of the second.
Quick dropped to 10-6-2 after stopping 11 of 14 shots. Ersberg made four saves against seven shots.
“It stunk,” Ersberg said. “I can’t do anything about it now. You can’t worry about it too long. I think we are the better team.”
Kovalchuk, whose 309 career goals lead the NHL since Atlanta drafted him No. 1 overall in 2001, likes how Afinogenov is assimilating after spending his first nine seasons under Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff.
“Max looks like he got a second life,” Kovalchuk said. “In Buffalo, he took a beating by the coach. He’s one of the hardest workers. Every day, he’s smiling.”
NOTES: Kings C Anze Kopitar, who began the night leading the NHL with 30 points and tied for , snapped a five-game points streak. … Thrashers C Bryan Little had a light groin strain and missed his first game this season. After finishing second on the club with 31 goals in 79 games last season, Little, a 2006 first-round draft pick, has two goals and four assists in 15 games. … Atlanta improved to 5-7-0, including 3-3-0 at Philips Arena, against the Kings.