ATLANTA (AP) — Ilya Kovalchuk would give up all his goals for a
shot at the playoffs.
That won’t happen this season, but Kovalchuk netted his 40th
goal and the Atlanta Thrashers scored three times in less than
three minutes of the second period to beat the Ottawa Senators,
6-3, on Saturday night.
“I’d trade all my goals for a playoff spot,” said Kovalchuk, who
has at least 40 goals in five consecutive seasons.
The Thrashers, who have won two straight and eight of 11, broke
open a 2-2 game on goals by Tobias Enstrom, Marty Reasoner and
Colby Armstrong in a span of 2:58.
Enstrom, who had two assists, scored his fifth goal on a power
play at 13:12, giving Atlanta a 3-2 edge. Reasoner added his
13th goal 1:12 later before Armstrong notched his 19th 54
seconds later for a 5-2 lead.
Jason Spezza had two of Ottawa’s goals, giving him 29 this
season, in the first period.
Kovalchuk, who also had an assist on Enstrom’s goal, scored his
milestone goal with 10 seconds left in the opening period. The
seven-year veteran, who has 294 career goals, has registered
four goals and five assists in his last four games. Nathan
Oystrick scored earlier in the period for Atlanta.
“It’s easy to score when everybody plays well. We’re building
some momentum for next year,” Kovalchuk said of the Thrashers
(32-38-6). “I’ll try for (300 goals). A couple of hat tricks and
Spezza assisted on Ryan Shannon’s power-play goal at 1:50 of the
third period. It was Shannon’s seventh of the season and third
in three games for the Senators, who lost their second straight
after winning five in a row.
“We played a decent first period, made good goals,” Spezza said.
“Had a horrible second period, and they just outplayed us after
Atlanta’s Slava Kozlov, who had two assists, scored his 24th
goal on a power play at 9:23 of the third period.
Todd White and Eric Perrin each had a pair of assists, and
Armstrong added an assist for the Thrashers. Johan Hedberg
recorded his 100th career victory by making 18 saves.
“It only took almost 10 years, but it was nice to have it,” said
the 35-year-old Hedberg, who has played for Pittsburgh,
Vancouver, Dallas and Atlanta. “I noticed a week ago that I was
closing in on it.”
The backup to Kari Lehtonen is 11-10-3 this season.
Ottawa rookie goalie Brian Elliott was removed after Reasoner’s
goal. He gave up four goals on 21 shots. His replacement Alex
Auld allowed Armstrong’s goal on the first shot he faced.
“By no means was it his fault,” Ottawa coach Cory Clouston said
of Elliott. “They wanted it more than we did. It’s hard to
explain that. The effort just wasn’t consistent enough at
Ottawa’s Nick Foligno had an assist, giving him two goals and
four assists in five games.