NHL Game Summary - Atlanta at Florida
(Saturday, March 8th)
Final Score: Florida 3, Atlanta 2 (OT)
Sunrise, FL (Sports Network) - Nathan Horton notched the game-winner with 23 seconds left in overtime, as the Florida Panthers rallied to down the Atlanta Thrashers, 3-2, at BankAtlantic Center.
In the extra session, Ilya Kovalchuk was called for hooking with 1:42 to go and Florida capitalized on the power play, as Horton fired a shot from the left circle behind Kari Lehtonen.
"Rostislav Olesz was behind the net," said Horton. "He passed to me. I just tried to shoot it really hard to the net and he (Olesz) made a great screen. The goalie (Lehtonen) didn't see anything and that's how it went in."
Brett McLean scored twice for the Panthers, who extended their winning streak to four games, tying their season-high. Florida rattled off four victories in a row from November 19-28. Jay Bouwmeester, Olli Jokinen and Olesz each collected two assists, while Tomas Vokoun finished with 25 saves for his 26th win of the season.
Florida trails Philadelphia, which defeated the Islanders Saturday night, by six points for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Kovalchuk and Bryan Little tallied for the Thrashers, who have dropped nine of their last 10 contests. Mark Recchi picked up two assists and Lehtonen allowed three goals on 43 shots in defeat.
"We had a lot of chances," Little said. "I probably should have had more than one (goal) but that's the way the game goes. You miss a couple of chances and they (Panthers) go down and score. I thought I played well for some of the game but we made some mistakes and that's when they scored. It seems like it was a really big special teams game, but you never want to lose a game in overtime."
The Panthers got into penalty trouble early in the contest, as Stephen Weiss was assessed a two-minute minor for tripping at the 1:34 mark of the first. Little quickly put the Thrashers on the board when he jammed home a loose puck at 2:12.
Atlanta converted on the power play again, as Kovalchuk's one-timer from the left point trickled between the pads of Vokoun with 3:07 remaining. Florida's power play responded less than two minutes later. McLean, who was given too much room by the Thrashers defense, moved into the middle of the right circle, where he ripped a shot that caromed off the skate of Atlanta defenseman Ken Klee and in behind Lehtonen with 1:28 to go before the first intermission.
The Panthers scored the only goal in the second period. While on a power play, Bouwmeester ripped a shot from the point that went wide and ricocheted off the end boards. McLean, perched at the right post, backhanded the puck off the left leg of Lehtonen to even the score at the 8:40 mark.
Florida killed off three Atlanta power plays in the third period to keep the score tied at two.
Jokinen's second assist (230) moved him past former Panther Robert Svehla for the most assists in franchise history...McLean registered the third two-goal game of his career...Atlanta has lost seven straight and 10 of its last 12 road games. The club's last road triumph came on February 15 in New Jersey...Florida finished 3-for-4 on the power play, while Atlanta went 2-for-7...Florida continues its season-long seven-game homestand Wednesday against the Islanders...Atlanta hosts Colorado on Tuesday.
03/09 01:03:55 ET