Little, Thrashers hand Islanders 10th straight loss

UNIONDALE, New York (Ticker) — Bryan Little scored two goals —
including the game-winner just under eight minutes into the
third period – as the Atlanta Thrashers dealt the New York
Islanders their 10th consecutive loss Tuesday with a 4-2

Defenseman Mathieu Schneider and Colby Armstrong also tallied
and Johan Hedberg made 23 saves for the Thrashers, who had lost
10 of their previous 13 contests.

Andy Hilbert and Sean Bergenheim scored for the Islanders, who
have yet to win this month. New York has posted an 0-9-1 record
in December.

Little snapped a 2-2 tie at 7:42 of the third period, deflecting
Ilya Kovalchuk’s attempt past Islanders goaltender Joey
MacDonald while on a power play for his 14th goal of the season.

“I haven’t scored too many goals like that this year, but two in
one night,” Little said. “It doesn’t matter how they looked,
they went in. So, I was pretty excited.”

Kovalchuk collected his 500th career point on the play. The
25-year- old Russian has 265 goals and 236 assists over his
six-year career, spent entirely with Atlanta. He also assisted
on Armstrong’s empty-netter.

“It’s always good when we win – it’s a nice moment, but I hope
there are more points in front of me and more wins,” Kovalchuk
said. “I started when I was 18. So usually, if you play at
least 75-80 games a season, you’ll get there. But I want to get
more playoff experience, so hopefully we’ll get better and I’ll
have 500 games in the playoffs.”

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Kovalchuk’s relative inability to find the back of the net this
season has been well documented, but when players like Little
can finish on rebounds, it takes some of the frustration away.

“He’s stepped up unbelievably,” Kovalchuk said of Little.
“After last year, he’s grown up as a player and a man. He’s a
great sniper and when he works hard, he gets his goals.”

Little provided the Thrashers with a 2-0 edge by converting a
wrist shot at the 6:38 mark of the second period.

Hilbert ended New York’s 133-minute, 10-second scoring drought
with 3:12 left in the middle session, cutting the deficit to

“Richard Park just took the puck wide and threw a nice shot at
net,” Hilbert said. “I don’t think the goalie was expecting it.
I just crashed the net and got a rebound.”

Bergenheim tied the contest at 2-2 with a shorthanded goal,
fighting off a defender during a scramble in front of the net
and beating a sprawling Hedberg with a quick wrist shot.

After Little’s second goal restored the lead for Atlanta, the
Islanders tried to equalize again with a last-minute flurry, but
once again it was not to be.

“The effort was there, we had good play from some individuals,”
Islanders captain Bill Guerin said. “It was a good game all the
way through. We couldn’t catch a break, I guess. We didn’t
have enough firepower tonight.”

MacDonald stopped 23 shots for New York.