Atlanta rally produces its first shootout victory

Associated Press
Published January 12, 2006

ATLANTA - The Thrashers' new fashion statement might just become a trend.

With his teammates wearing their helmets backward, Marian Hossa scored the only goal in a shootout to lift Atlanta to a 4-3 victory over the Predators on Wednesday night.

It was Atlanta's first shootout victory in five tries. The Thrashers might just do it again if the situation calls for it.

"We had our rally caps on," forward Marc Savard said. "It worked, so you will probably see more of that."

Nashville fell to 4-2 in the NHL's new tiebreaker.

Nashville led 1-0 through two periods but needed two goals in the third period by Yanic Perreault to force overtime. Atlanta rallied in the period behind goals by Slava Kozlov, Ilya Kovalchuk and Savard.

Atlanta has won three straight, matching its longest winning streak of the season.

"We found another way to win and it was a special one because we got to taste victory after a shootout," Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said. "We had a great feeling on the bench, and the boys were having fun with their helmets turned around."

Led by three of the NHL's top nine scorers, the Thrashers began the night third in the league with 158 goals.

Trailing 1-0, Atlanta finally broke through on Kozlov's shot past Vokoun from in front of the net less than 2 minutes into the third period.

Nashville answered quickly on Perreault's first goal about 6 minutes into the period for a 2-1 lead, but the Thrashers again pulled even on Kovalchuk's league-leading 33rd goal.

The Thrashers took their first lead 12 minutes into the third on their first power-play goal of the game. Savard scored on an assist from Kovalchuk for a 3-2 Atlanta lead.

Kovalchuk broke his stick on each of his two shots in the opening period. He angrily threw down the broken shaft after shattering his second stick on a power-play chance. He broke a third early in the second period.

BLUE JACKETS 6, PENGUINS 1: A day after coach Michel Therrien said his teams' performance was "pathetic" and that half of the team "doesn't care" in a 3-1 home loss to Edmonton, visiting Pittsburgh allowed a goal 10 seconds into the game and spent much of the game throwing punches. There were six fights, two at one time in the second and third periods, as the teams combined for 152 penalty minutes.

AVALANCHE 2, CANADIENS 1: Ian Laperriere's goal with 3:36 left in the third capped host Colorado's comeback and gave the Avalanche their sixth straight win.

FLYERS 5, BLACKHAWKS 2: Mike Knuble scored on a deflection with 8:33 left in the game to break a tie with host Chicago. Mike Richards added an insurance goal with 6:25 left. Branko Radivojevic scored into an empty net with 51 seconds left.

Islanders fire Stirling

UNIONDALE, N.Y. - The Islanders fired coach Steve Stirling on Wednesday night, The Associated Press reported. The official announcement wasn't scheduled until today.

An interim coach will be in place before the Islanders' game against Calgary tonight, and it won't be GM Mike Milbury, the Associated Press reported.

Stirling went 38-29-11-4 during his rookie year of 2003-04 and guided New York to its third straight playoff appearance after taking over for the fired Peter Laviolette. But a recent skid dropped the Islanders out of the playoff picture and sealed his fate.

The final blow came Tuesday when the Islanders lost in Nashville to fall to 18-22-2, fourth place in the Atlantic Division.

Stirling, who ran practice Wednesday morning is the second to be fired this season, joining Pittsburgh's Ed Olczyk.

MESSIER SAYS GOODBYE: Not long after struggling through the beginning of a 16-minute farewell address that was halted frequently by his sobs, an emotional Mark Messier came to a realization: "Jeez," said the former Rangers captain whose No. 11 jersey will be raised to the rafters tonight at a sold-out Madison Square Garden game, "maybe I should have kept playing."

HURRICANES: Defenseman Aaron Ward will miss three to six weeks after surgery to repair a hernia. Ward left the Hurricanes' 3-2 win against Detroit in the second period Tuesday with the injury.