ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Atlanta Thrashers knew they were giving up plenty of scoring when they traded Ilya Kovalchuk to New Jersey.
One of the players they got in return hasn’t been too shabby himself. Niclas Bergfors scored the winner midway through the third period and the Thrashers beat the Minnesota Wild 3-2 on Friday night.
Evander Kane and Nik Antropov also scored for Atlanta, which has won two of three. Johan Hedberg made 36 saves and the Thrashers beat Minnesota in regulation for the first time in nine all-time meetings. Pavel Kubina had two assists.
Bergfors took a pass from Bryan Little at the Minnesota blue line and beat Niklas Backstrom at 11:05. The perfectly placed slapshot from the right circle went over the goalie’s right shoulder and under the crossbar.
One of three players acquired in the Kovalchuk trade on Feb. 4, Bergfors has goals in three straight games. He didn’t score a goal in his final 16 games as a Devil or his first as a Thrasher, but has been better than the scoring superstar early in the trade. Kovalchuk has scored once in five games with New Jersey.
“I got a new start coming here, new team and everything,” Bergfors said. “So far it’s been very good. The two guys I’m playing with are great players so it makes it easy.”
Antropov has two goals and four assists in the last three games and Little has two goals and two assists in his last three.
“We’ve been lucky enough to have him mesh well with Nic and Lits. It seems like they’ve been playing together a long time,” Atlanta coach John Anderson said.
Andrew Brunette and Andrew Ebbett scored for Minnesota, which lost its second straight at home after getting points in the nine previous games at Xcel Energy Center. Mikko Koivu had two assists.
“I thought we played a lot harder and did things better than in the previous game, which is what we set out to do, but we came up one short,” Wild coach Todd Richards said.
Atlanta has played a league-high 35 one-goal games, going 14-12-9. Minnesota has 34 one-goal games, falling to 19-11-4 in those games.
The Thrashers blew a two-goal lead in the third period Wednesday and lost in overtime at Colorado, and admitted there was some extra focus to play well. They entered the night four points out of the final Eastern Conference playoff position.
“We have a playoff mentality right now. Every game is important, and every game there’s two points at stake and we need those points,” Kane said. “We talked about the six points on this road trip and we wanted to get at least five of them. We have a big game at Chicago tomorrow.”
Atlanta gave Minnesota a golden opportunity late when Kane went off for interference with two minutes remaining, but Martin Havlat was whistled for a cross-check 24 seconds later to squander the man advantage.
“You go out there and you want to win, and we’re not able to do the jobs and get two points. It’s tough. It’s not enough to go out there and play OK,” said Backstrom, 1-4-1 in his past six starts.
Kane gave the Thrashers a 1-0 lead midway through the first period when he took a pass from Colby Armstrong and beat Backstrom with a wrist shot from the right dot.
Brunette tied the game a little over two minutes later with a power play goal, knocking a rebound past Hedberg.
An aggressive play by Ebbett made it 2-1 Minnesota.
Koivu intercepted a pass in the Atlanta zone and passed to Cal Clutterbuck, whose shot from the left circle was stopped by Hedberg. However, Ebbett crashed the net for an easy rebound goal.
Antropov tipped in a slapshot by Kubina to tie the game on the power play with 13.6 seconds left in the first.
NOTES: Earlier Friday, Minnesota traded D Kim Johnsson and the rights to 2009 first-round pick Nick Leddy to Chicago for D Cam Barker. … Atlanta D Arturs Kulda and Minnesota C Cody Almond made their NHL debuts. .. Brunette has nine power-play goals to match last year’s total. His career high is 11 with Colorado in 2005-06. … This is the only meeting of the season between the two teams. They haven’t met since Oct. 14, 2008.