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Todd White's power-play goal gives Atlanta Thrashers OT win over Tampa Bay

ATLANTA - Todd White has two of Atlanta's five goals in overtime.

Such are the blessings of playing centre on a front line with Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa.

"I don't know what it is about overtime," White said. "But I told them I was good for one (winner) a year. This makes two. I don't know."

White scored a power-play goal with 2:11 left in OT to give the Thrashers a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night.

Kovalchuk had his NHL-best 17th goal for the Thrashers, who withstood another terrific effort by Vincent Lecavalier to earn their third straight win.

Lecavalier had a goal and an assist for the Lightning to extend his multipoint streak to eight games, longest in the NHL since Jaromir Jagr had 10 straight for Pittsburgh from Feb. 18-March 9, 1996. The centre leads the league with 34 points.

Kovalchuk tied it 3-3 with a wrister with 2:23 left in regulation, and helped set up White's winner in overtime.

"Todd looks like a 60-goal scorer out there," Kovalchuk said. "His first overtime goal was top shelf and this one (went) low."

The Lightning led 3-1 on Martin St. Louis' eighth goal with 9:30 left in the third, but Bryan Little's third goal, coming four minutes later with Atlanta on a two-man advantage, made it 3-2.

Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella wasn't exactly pleased with the holding call on Brad Richards, which gave Atlanta a chance to start a comeback.

Unleashing a profanity-laced tirade after the game, Tortorella couldn't mask his anger.

"The frustrating part to me is that these organizations pay players millions upon millions of dollars, and they are the ones who should decide the outcome of games," Tortorella said. "They are the show. I'm trying to stay away from criticizing calls, but (to heck with that). I don't get it. It makes the coach's job just that much harder - how do you prepare players when you get that (kind of call) out there? There's a disconnect somewhere. There's something obviously wrong with this game."

Lecavalier earned his 20th assist on St. Louis' shot from the bottom of the left circle, but it was Vaclav Prospal's 11th assist on a backhanded pass from the rear boards that set up the goal.

Lightning defenceman Filip Kuba was at a disadvantage in overtime after Kovalchuk took control of the puck behind the Atlanta blue-line. Kovalchuk passed to White along the left boards, but Kuba also had to concern himself with Hossa coming down the right side.

Looking as if he thought Kovalchuk would probably take the shot, Kuba allowed too much room for White, who lifted the puck past goaltender Johan Holmqvist for the winner.

"We have been playing together eight games now," White said of his front-line work with Kovalchuk and Hossa. "I try to feed them. I feel more confident."

Atlanta took a 1-0 lead 3:13 into the first on Brad Larsen's first goal.

Jan Hlavac scored a goal, his fourth, for the second straight game to tie it at 1 at the 13:55 mark of the second.

The Thrashers improved to 5-0 in overtime this season. Since general manager Don Waddell took over as coach on Oct. 18, Atlanta is 10-4-0.

"We did a great job in the third period," Waddell said. "We only gave them four shots. We shut them down until they got the third goal, but this team never feels they are out of it."

Johan Hedberg had 17 saves to win his third straight start for the Thrashers.

Holmqvist, making his eighth straight start, fell to 10-6-1 after making 20 saves.

Over the last eight games, Kovalchuk and Hossa have combined for 18 goals and 12 assists.

St. Louis has 15 points, including six goals, in Tampa Bay's last eight games.

Notes: The season series is tied 2-2. ... Tampa Bay dropped 5-3-1 in its last nine trips to Atlanta. ... Kari Lehtonen, the Thrashers' No. 1 goalie, has been out since Oct. 20 with a strained groin, but he returned to practice on Sunday. Waddell doesn't anticipate that Lehtonen will return in the next two weeks.


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