ATLANTA (AP) -Antti Miettinen hasn’t taken long to impress his new team.
“He’s a guy that I don’t have to say anything except in meetings how to play,” Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. “He’s a guy that knows everything I know. He makes it easy to work with.”
Miettinen scored two third-period goals to help Minnesota to a 4-2 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers on Tuesday night.
“I think I kind of have to know what the coach knows,” said Miettinen, who signed three months ago as a free agent from Dallas. “I try to do what I’m told.”
Marian Gaborik and Andrew Brunette scored their first goals of the season for the Wild.
Ilya Kovalchuk, whose 255 career goals lead the NHL since his rookie season of 2001-02, scored his first goal of the season for Atlanta, which also got a goal from Bryan Little.
Miettinen put the Wild up by two with 10:19 remaining when he lifted the puck over the right shoulder of goaltender Kari Lehtonen on a breakaway.
Atlanta cut the lead to 3-2 on Little’s team-leading third goal with 4:40 to play, but Miettinen and Brunette worked a give-and-go to end the scoring with 2:40 remaining.
“I was lucky people were down at the same time,” said Miettinen, who signed three months ago as a free agent from Dallas. “This is going to build our team. This win tonight was really big, especially on the road.”
Added Brunette: “He’s in the right spot at the right time. He’s a hard player. He has good instincts.”
Gaborik, coming off a career season that included 42 goals, 41 assists and 83 points, continued to dominate Atlanta, scoring his eighth point (five goals) in six games against the Thrashers.
“He was responsible on our end,” Lemaire said. “He made some beautiful plays.”
He stole the puck from behind Mathieu Schneider in the slot for an unassisted goal 2:44 into the third.
Brunette made it 1-0 on the power play 15:31 into the first period. Skating through the right circle, Brunette took Mikko Koivu’s pass from across the crease and tapped the puck past Lehtonen.
First-year Atlanta coach John Anderson insisted his team is “not all gloom and doom” with New Jersey visiting Philips Arena on Thursday. He credited Little, who assisted on Kovalchuk’s goal, with improved awareness.
“He’s playing on a really good line,” Anderson said. “He’s expected to do something and he has. He had a nice pass to Kovalchuk and had a nice finish with Whitey’s pass.”
Notes: An official scoring change added a second assist to Koivu and took one from Brunette. … Atlanta went 3-for-9 on the power play in a season-opening win over Washington, but the Thrashers are a combined 0-for-8 since. … Defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron, who took five shots, knows Minnesota is missing injured defensemen Marek Zidlicky (ankle) and Tomas Mojzis (leg). “I’m pretty sure they will be a big help (when they return),” Bergeron said. “Being on the power play isn’t as hard as 5-on-5 or the (penalty kill) on defensemen. I’m out on the point waiting for a shot. Had some good chances tonight, but just couldn’t put them behind the goalie.”