NHL Game Summary - Pittsburgh at Atlanta
(Wednesday, January 30th)
Final Score: Atlanta 4, Pittsburgh 1
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Kari Lehtonen made 29 saves and Ilya Kovalchuk notched the game-winning goal as Atlanta topped Pittsburgh, 4-1, at Philips Arena.
Bobby Holik, Eric Perrin and Jim Slater scored for the Thrashers, who snapped a five-game losing skid.
Kovalchuk recorded his 38th goal of the season, then left the game after Pens forward Jarkko Ruutu's knee collided with his own right knee along the boards at center ice with 3:21 played in the second. Kovalchuk was able to get to the locker room under his own power, and Ruutu was given a major penalty for kneeing along with a fighting major and a game misconduct.
"I went to finish my check," Ruutu said of the sequence of events. "He ducked away and I barely hit him. I got five minutes for fighting and I didn't even throw a punch. I had my gloves on the whole time. There is no reason to be suspended for the hit."
The high-flying Russian returned for one shift late in the period but did not play for the remainder of the contest.
"The league looks at all these situations," said Atlanta head coach Don Waddell. "I'm sure they've looked already 100 times. We'll leave that to the league. The officials made the right call on the ice, and from here it's out of our hands."
Ryan Whitney provided the lone offense for the Penguins, who have dropped three of four and played poorly following a key road division win at New Jersey on Tuesday.
Starter Ty Conklin took the loss by allowing four goals on just 20 shots. Dany Sabourin made seven saves in just over 16 minutes in relief to close out the game.
Perrin gave Atlanta breathing room and a 3-0 lead 1:32 into the third with a short-handed breakaway goal as a result of Pittsburgh defenseman Sergei Gonchar misplaying a hand pass from a Thrashers player in the neutral zone.
Slater followed with his first of the season at 3:46 for a four-goal Atlanta margin, and Conklin exited for Sabourin.
Whitney broke the shutout at 8:42 on a pretty goal off a feed from Erik Christensen, but Lehtonen was strong down the stretch and held the visitors at bay.
Holik scored his first goal in seven games 7:08 into the contest, as he managed to track down his own rebound, and stash a backhander off the post and Conklin's pad from the left side.
Kovalchuk followed by netting his first goal in six games at the tail end of a four-minute power play, scoring on his trademark one-time slapper from the left circle with 3:18 to play in the first.
"He's been our horse all year, and scored that big second goal for us," Waddell said. "Then, we have to play the rest of the game without him. I thought our guys did a good job."
Pittsburgh's Nathan Smith had his first NHL goal denied by official review, as it was ruled that he intentionally redirected a Brooks Orpik dish into the net with the side of his right skate with 2:10 to play in the period.
Atlanta has won four of the last seven meetings...The clubs meet one final time this season at Pittsburgh on March 2...There were 14 penalties, evenly divided...Atlanta's Steve McCarthy returned after missing 10 games with an oblique injury, picked up an assist on Kovalchuk's goal, and was given 17 minutes in penalties retaliating against Ruutu for his hit...Pens forward Colby Armstrong missed his second straight game with the flu.
01/30 22:25:32 ET