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NHL Game Summary - Carolina at Atlanta

(Friday, December 26th)

Final Score: Carolina 5, Atlanta 4

Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Eric Staal's third-period hat trick helped the Carolina Hurricanes overtake the Atlanta Thrashers, 5-4, at Philips Arena.

Chad LaRose and Patrick Eaves notched the other two goals for the Hurricanes, who have earned points in eight of their last 10 games, going 5-2-3 during that span. Ray Whitney collected three assists, while Cam Ward made 27 saves to pick up his 12th win of the season.

Bryan Little registered his first career three-goal game for the Thrashers, who have dropped six of their last nine contests. Todd White had a goal and an assist, while Slava Kozlov recorded four helpers. Johan Hedberg was beaten five times on 39 shots in defeat.

"Everything was bouncing my way tonight, but it still doesn't feel great cause we lost," said Little. "Hopefully, the team can get back on track and I can continue to be effective in front of the net. It seemed like whenever we had a lead, we would let up and they would take advantage of it."

Trailing by a goal after 40 minutes of play, Carolina tied the score at 3-3 on Staal's power-play tally at the 7:27 mark of the third period.

After Little finished off his hat trick and restored the lead for Atlanta at 9:52, Staal netted the tying goal 50 seconds later and completed his sixth career hat trick with 8:02 remaining, skating the entire length of the ice and firing a wrister that beat Hedberg on the blocker side.

"It was nice to get it going in the third period," Staal said. "We got down a couple (times) and ended up battling back and managed to get the two points against a division opponent."

The red-hot White lit the lamp on the power play to give Atlanta a 1-0 lead. Ron Hainsey's blast from up high was stopped by the former Conn Smythe Award winner, but the veteran pivot buried the rebound on the backhand past Ward's left pad with 9:02 remaining in the opening period.

LaRose evened the score, chipping a rebound of a Frantisek Kaberle slap shot over the glove of Hedberg with 1:04 left in the first, and Eaves put the Hurricanes on top 5:58 into the middle stanza.

Little then tallied twice in a 1:43 span late in the second period to restore the lead for Atlanta. The 2006 first-rounder positioned himself in the slot and he redirected Hainsey's drive from the point behind Ward with 1:46 to go before the second intermission.

Shortly after, Carolina defenseman Joni Pitkanen went off for hooking and the second-year center struck again. White worked the puck behind the cage to Kozlov, whose emerged around the far post and tried to stuff it on the wraparound. Little was on the doorstep and backhanded the rebound with three seconds remaining.

Game Notes

White tied his career-high point streak at eight games (five goals, six assists)...Atlanta holds a 2-1-0 edge in the season series...Thrashers center Marty Reasoner played in his 500th career game...Before the game, Atlanta activated defenseman Zach Bogosian from injured reserve and placed defenseman Garnet Exelby on IR.

12/26 22:42:54 ET

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