Little, Kovalchuk fuel Thrashers past Flames

ATLANTA (Ticker) — Bryan Little scored twice and captain Ilya
Kovalchuk netted his 36th goal of the season and added an assist
as the Atlanta Thrashers remained unbeaten against the Calgary
Flames with a 5-2 triumph on Sunday.

Chris Thorburn and defenseman Tobias Enstrom also scored and
Kari Lehtonen finished with 27 saves for the Thrashers, who
improved to 5-0-0 with one tie at home against the Flames since
entering the league in 1999.

“I didn’t know that, but I know it now,” Kovalchuk said of the
record. “They got a good team. It’s always nice to see teams
you don’t play for a while.”

“I think we want to prove to ourselves that we can play against
and beat teams like Calgary and the better teams in the league,”
Little said. “We’re winning these games for us and the fans.”

Captain Jarome Iginla netted his 30th goal of the season –
marking his eighth straight season that he has reached that

“Last year we had a great opportunity to break that,” Iginla
said of his team’s fortunes in Atlanta. “This one, we just
didn’t play aggressive or determined enough. We didn’t deserve
to win.

“Last year we had a chance. I don’t think it’s about a jinx.
They outplayed us.”

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Craig Conroy also scored and Miikka Kiprusoff turned aside 15
shots for the Flames, who spent their first eight NHL seasons in
Atlanta before moving to Calgary in 1980.

“Kiprusoff has had better games, there is not a question. He’d
be the first to say that,” Flames coach Mike Keenan said. “We
have to respond to those situations.”

“Hopefully, I’ll be better next game,” Kiprusoff said. “It’s
tough, but it’s one loss. We can’t keep worrying about it. We
have to have more energy from the start. I didn’t do it

Calgary has lost two in a row after posting a 7-1-1 mark in its
previous nine games.

With Atlanta nursing a 3-1 lead, Iginla cut the deficit back to
one 5:19 into the third period but Kovalchuk restored the
two-goal lead just 2:20 later.

Little capped the scoring with his second tally of the contest
midway through the third.

“I wish we would have been playing like this to start the
season,” Little said. “We weren’t playing with desperation.

“Right now, we want to prove to ourselves that we could play in
this league and play against top teams. We’re finally playing
like this, but it’s much too late.”