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Peverley scores twice as Thrashers down Panthers

SUNRISE, Florida (AP) -- The Florida Panthers might be desperate

to end their lengthy playoff drought, but they certainly aren't

making it easy on themselves.

Rich Peverley scored his second goal of the game in the third

period to break a tie and lift the Atlanta Thrashers to a 3-1

win over Florida on Friday night.

Florida missed a chance to tie the eighth-place New York Rangers

in points at the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Panthers haven't qualified for the postseason since 2000.

"This is one that we definitely thought we needed," Panthers

defenseman Bryan McCabe said. "At home against one of the

bottom teams in our conference. I don't think we played that

bad, we just couldn't put the puck in the net."

Todd White added a goal for the Thrashers with 1:03 left while

Panthers goalie Craig Anderson was trying to come off the ice

for an extra attacker. Anderson was close to the bench when

White stole the puck near center ice. Anderson dove toward the

net but couldn't get there in time to stop White's long shot.

"It was a frustrating night," Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said.

"Nothing seemed to be working and we didn't feel that mojo on

the bench that we've had in the past, for whatever reason, I

don't know what it was. But we're still alive here in the last

week of the season. We're two points out of a playoff spot and

a lot of hockey left."

Colby Armstrong had two assists for Atlanta, which earned its

fourth straight win and fifth in six games.

Gregory Campbell scored the lone goal for Florida.

The Thrashers have already been eliminated from playoff

contention but have served as spoilers down the stretch.

Atlanta beat 10th-place Buffalo, 3-2, in overtime on Wednesday

night and knocked off the Rangers in a shootout on March 26.

"We don't have the playoffs, so April 11 is our last game of the

season," Peverley said. "I don't want to stop playing hockey,

but we have to. We're just trying to make the most of it. It's

too bad because we have a pretty good team going forward."

Johan Hedberg made 35 saves for the Thrashers.

"The whole team is playing really well in front of me, and

really that gives me confidence," Hedberg said. "And the more

games I get to play, the more comfortable I feel."

Anderson, making his fourth consecutive start in place of Tomas

Vokoun, stopped 29 shots. DeBoer said he was not sure who would

start Sunday night, when the Panthers close a three-game

homestand against Pittsburgh.

Peverley, who had gone 10 games without a goal, gave Atlanta a

2-1 lead with 8:54 left in the third period. His wrist shot

from close range went over Anderson's left shoulder. Peverley

opened the scoring at 2:23 of the second with a wrist shot from

the slot that beat Anderson to the short side.

Campbell scored at 6:17 of the second to tie it, 1-1. Hedberg

stopped Campbell's initial shot, but Campbell backhanded the

puck in from a sharp angle near the net for his first goal since

February 12. It snapped a 23-game drought.



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