'Canes score OT winner over Thrashers
Erik Cole and the Carolina Hurricanes got what they felt they deserved.
It just took a little longer than they would have liked.
After having a goal disallowed in the second period that would have given Carolina a commanding three-goal lead, Cole scored 2:09 into overtime to lift the Hurricanes to a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on Sunday.
''I thought that game should have been 4-1, and I thought, in that case, the way we were skating, it was over,'' Carolina Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. ''(He was) disappointed that they got a point. I think it's important that we got the two because I think that's just.''
Tuomo Ruutu, Zac Dalpe and Jeff Skinner also scored for the Hurricanes, who are 5-0-2 in their past seven games as they chase Montreal for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Joe Corvo also had two assists, and Justin Peters won his second straight start.
Bryan Little scored twice and Niclas Bergfors added the Thrashers' other goal as Atlanta rallied from a two-goal deficit to earn a point. Ondrej Pavelec made 30 saves.
Atlanta was trying to rebound from a 9-3 loss to Toronto on Friday. After a torrid stretch from the middle of November to the middle of December, Atlanta has leveled off and is 3-5-2 in past 10 games.
''We're very proud of the way the boys fought back,'' Atlanta coach Craig Ramsay said. ''We're down significantly again, and we fought back from the tough one the other night.
''But I thought they showed a lot of heart and a lot of courage.''
Cole scored in overtime after being denied by Pavelec on a partial breakaway. After the rebound went to the corner, Cole recollected it, skated in on Atlanta's goalie and beat him blocker side.
The Hurricanes took a 3-1 lead in the second period courtesy of goals by Dalpe and Skinner.
Shortly after Skinner's goal, it looked like Cole gave Carolina a 4-1 advantage when he backhanded the puck into the net from just outside the crease. But officials called Cole for an interference penalty on Dustin Byfuglien despite minimal contact, negating the goal.
''I wasn't particularly happy with the call, but those guys do a lot of games throughout the year, and they're not going to be spot on every night,'' Cole said.
Atlanta took advantage of the momentum swing, scoring on the ensuing power play. Bergfors took a nice pass from Andrew Ladd in the slot and wristed the puck past Peters' blocker to make the score 3-2.
Little then tied the score midway through the third period when he snapped a shot past Peters' glove on an odd-man rush.
Atlanta had a chance to score the winner with a late power play but couldn't convert.
''The penalty kill was huge,'' Maurice said. ''Maybe the most part of the entire game.''
Carolina opened the scoring 1:20 into the game when Corvo skated the length of the ice, made a nifty move at the Atlanta blueline to get past a Thrashers defenseman, and fed Ruutu, who converted from the slot.
Atlanta tied the score after Little caught Peters out of the crease and scored on a wraparound.
Peters got his second straight start for the first time this season as Cam Ward sat out with an undisclosed minor injury. Ward was on the bench as Peters' backup.
NOTES: Atlanta's Ben Eager sat out after being suspended by the NHL on Saturday for four games for punching Toronto's Colby Armstrong. ... Carolina D Joni Pitkanen returned to the lineup after missing five games with an upper-body injury. ... Ladd was a member of the Hurricanes' 2006 Stanley Cup championship.