ATLANTA – Kari Lehtonen is starting to gain back his confidence, especially late.
Todd White’s power-play goal 47 seconds into the third period broke a tie and helped the Atlanta Thrashers snap the Ottawa Senators’ winning streak at six, with a 3-2 victory Thursday night.
Atlanta, which ended its four-game skid on Tuesday with a win over Tampa Bay, beat Ottawa for the first time this season after three losses. The Eastern Conference-leading Senators fell to 22-8-3.
Lehtonen had 28 saves, giving up a pair of goals in the first two periods, but shut down Ottawa in the final period when he stopped 14 shots including crucial drives late in the game.
“This was the game that I needed to come up big at the end when the game was on the line. That helps me,” said Lehtonen, who lost his first four starts when Atlanta went 0-6 to start the season.
He sat out 16 games with a groin injury and is 4-2 since returning on Dec. 1.
“The third period (Lehtonen) was outstanding,” coach Don Waddell said. “He made some point-blank saves.”
On the strength of their back-to-back wins, the Thrashers are 16-17-1 this season.
“That’s two games in a row that he’s risen to the challenge. Certainly, those two games he’s played extremely well, and we won both games,” Waddell said.
White’s winner came from in close, beating Martin Gerber, who had 42 saves. The Thrashers tied a franchise record with 45 shots.
“I was hoping (his goal would stand up). They’re a tough team to hold to two goals,” White said. “We had a lot of energy. We shot the puck a lot more. That put pressure on them.”
Tobias Enstrom and Mark Recchi assisted on White’s ninth of the season, set up when Ottawa’s Chris Phillips was sent off for high-sticking at the end of the second period.
“I think it’s discipline. You have to be responsible for your actions with your stick,” Ottawa coach John Paddock said.
“It wasn’t a great effort for us,” Ottawa’s Chris Kelly said. “I think the score might have been a lot worse if not for Gerber. He kept us in the game.”
The Senators took a 2-1 lead with three minutes left in the second period on a goal by Daniel Alfredsson, his 20th. He beat Lehtonen with a shot that went between the goalie’s legs. Jason Spezza, who scored Ottawa’s first goal, and Dany Heatley assisted on Alfredsson’s goal.
The Thrashers tied it 46 seconds later when Ilya Kovalchuk put a rebound of Ken Klee’s shot past Gerber. It was the NHL-leading 28th goal for Kovalchuk, who has scored four times in three games.
The Senators took a 1-0 lead in the first period on Spezza’s 11th goal, converting a perfect cross-ice pass from Randy Robitaille at 5:43.
Atlanta tied it at one at 7:14 of the second period when Eric Boulton scored his third goal.
Notes: The Thrashers outshot Ottawa 21-7 in the first period, but trailed 1-0. … Atlanta matched the 45 shots they recorded on Jan. 18 against Montreal. … Ottawa outscored the Thrashers 19-11 this season. Kovalchuk scored seven of Atlanta’s goals. … Heatley has six goals and three assists in his last five games and 12 goals and 10 assists in 15. … Alfredsson extended his point streak to 10 games (4 goals, 11 assists). … Recchi has two goals and three assists in five games since being claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh.