NHL Game Summary - Buffalo at Atlanta
(Monday, March 20th)
Final Score: Atlanta 5, Buffalo 0
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Kari Lehtonen made 20 saves to notch his second shutout of the season and pace the Atlanta Thrashers past the Buffalo Sabres, 5-0, at Philips Arena.
Ilya Kovalchuk registered his 43rd goal and 41st assist of the season, and both Slava Kozlov and Peter Bondra tallied a goal and an assist for Atlanta, which has won three of its last four games.
"The Sabres did not show up tonight for one reason, and that's their coach," Kozlov said. Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff missed the game to be with his ailing daughter, who was diagnosed with a mass on her brain. "He was not here today and I think all their minds were with him."
Despite the win, the Thrashers remained one point behind the Montreal Canadiens in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Martin Biron stopped 18 shots for Buffalo, which has lost two straight following an eight-game winning streak.
"It's just out of character for us and some things that are not typical," Biron said. "For me, bad decisions, bad rebounds, the puck leaking through. (It was) just one of those games you got to forget and refocus and get back at it."
Atlanta drew first blood with 4:13 left in the first period after Kovalchuk beat Biron through the five hole with a wrist shot from the left circle.
The Thrashers increased their lead with 28.1 seconds left in the opening frame as Bondra poked a rebound through Biron's five hole to make it 2-0.
Atlanta upped its lead 7:57 into the middle frame when Kozlov finished a 2- on-1 rush with a wrist shot from the right circle that beat Biron glove side for a 3-0 advantage.
The Thrashers continued to pour it on with 8:07 left in the second period while on the power play as Steve McCarthy's slap shot from the top of the left circle deflected off a Sabres' defenseman and past Biron for a 4-0 lead.
Atlanta capped the scoring less than two minutes later while on the man advantage when Jaroslav Modry's one-timer from the right point squirted between Biron's left arm and pad.
Atlanta right wing Marian Hossa missed the game due to the flu...The Sabres have split four meetings with the Thrashers this season...Atlanta improved to 21-5-2 when scoring the first goal...Lehtonen recorded his third career shutout.
03/20 23:13:36 ET