SUNRISE, Fla. – Ilya Kovalchuk scored three power-play goals to help the Atlanta Thrashers continue the best start in franchise history with a 6-3 victory over the Florida Panthers.

Atlanta, 7-1-1, has 15 points, the most ever for the Thrashers in October.

Marian Hossa and Steve Rucchi also scored on the power play for the Thrashers, who also got a goal from former Florida captain Scott Mellanby. Vyacheslav Kozlov had four assists.

Atlanta finished 5-for-7 on the power play. The Thrashers entered the game 4-for-31 with the man advantage.

Florida, which entered the game first in the league in power-play efficiency at 27.9, was 0-for-6.

Joel Kwiatkowski, Bryan Allen and Jozef Stumpel scored for Florida, which lost at home for the first time in five games.

Atlanta is 3-0 against Florida this season. The Thrashers beat the Panthers 4-2 at Atlanta on Saturday night.

Kari Lehtonen, who has started every game for Atlanta, made 25 saves.

Florida goalie Alex Auld (3-3-1) gave up five goals on 19 shots before being pulled after the second period with the Panthers trailing 5-2. Ed Belfour stopped seven of eight shots in the third.

Atlanta trailed 2-0 before Kovalchuk scored his first goal at 17:55 of the first period on a one-timer from the slot.

The Thrashers then took advantage of a 5-on-3 to score twice in 36 seconds in the second.

Hossa tied the game at 2 with his sixth goal in four games when he took a pass across the crease from Mellanby. Kovalchuk then stopped a clearing attempt by Florida in the slot and beat Auld with a wrist shot just under the crossbar.

After Mellanby scored on a breakaway by taking a loose puck coming out of the penalty box, Kovalchuk completed his hat trick when he took a feed from Kozlov inside the blue line, skated in and beat Auld to the glove side.

Florida took a 2-0 lead with two goals in 23 seconds in the first period.

Kwiatkowski, a defenseman moved to forward because of injuries, opened the scoring when he tipped in Steve Montador’s slap shot from the point.

Allen then scored on a 3-on-2 rush when he took Olli Jokinen’s cross-ice pass and beat Lehtonen on the short side.

Notes: Florida RW Todd Bertuzzi missed his third consecutive game because of back spasms. … This was Kovalchuk s fifth career hat trick, his first since Jan. 6, 2006 at Pittsburgh. … Atlanta’s previous mark for most points in October was 13, set in 2003 when the Thrashers went 5-3-2-1. … This was the first game of Atlanta’s season-long five-game road trip. The Thrashers play at Carolina Wednesday, followed by games at Philadelphia, Buffalo and Toronto.

AP-ES-10-23-06 2219EDT


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.