ATLANTA (AP) - Alex Burrows played the hero Thursday night scoring midway through the final frame to complete a rare third-period rally for Vancouver, who beat the Thrashers 2-1 in Atlanta.
Daniel Sedin scored on a power play for Vancouver early in the third period after a second-period goal by Pascal Dupuis gave the Thrashers a 1-0 lead.
“It was just hard work,” said Burrows, who now has six goals on the year. “We knew it was a big game and we wanted those two points to get to .500 on this road trip.”
The Canucks had been 1-19-1 this season when trailing after two periods and came into Thursday’s game winless in regulation in their past 13 games, including the last three in Tampa Bay, Florida and Dallas.
Thanks to a pair of narrow shootout losses, the Canucks will return home with four of a possible six points on this four-game swing.
“They’re always going to be tight, one-goal games and that’s how we like to play them, said Burrows, who helped keep Atlanta sniper Ilya Kovalchuk off the scoreboard. “Any time we can chip in with a goal, it’s huge.”
It seems the Canucks haven’t gotten a break in months, but finally got one Thursday on Burrows’ winning goal. Atlanta's Eric Perrin delivered an unintentional assist, and Thrashers goaltender Kari Lehtonen was left with a painful mark on his chest as evidence.
Burrows' goal 11:14 into the third period came after contact between Ryan Kesler and Perrin in front of the net. Perrin's stick hit Lehtonen below his right collarbone, knocking the goalie off his feet. Lehtonen was sitting on his backside in front of the net and was unable to defend Burrows' shot.
After the game, Lehtonen showed a 6-inch red streak on his upper chest.
"Perrin's stick hit me right here," Lehtonen said, pointing to the mark. "That's why I went on my butt. I couldn't get up fast enough. "I was complaining a lot because I thought it was their player's stick, but I was wrong. Sometimes things like that happen."
Roberto Luongo stopped 27 shots for Vancouver, and made several crucial saves down the stretch, including a diving stop of Perrin with under four minutes to play as the Thrashers’ forward slipped behind the defence and clean look from the back side.
“Luongo played unbelievable for us again tonight and he deserves those two points the way he’s been playing for us lately,” Burrows said.
“I think it was a must-win,” said Luongo. “We’re all looking at the standings and realizing that we’re a couple of points behind. We talked about it before the game and we wanted to finish off .500 on this road trip.”
With the win, the Canucks moved to within one point of eighth place in the west, and just three back of the division-leading Minnesota Wild.
The Thrasher, who are in a bitter playoff fight of their own, have dropped two straight and given up precious ground to the Washington Capitals.
"It's bad to lose two in a row, especially when we're in both games," Lehtonen said. "It's the time of year when we really have to get the points, and it's terrible that we didn't."
Atlanta's Kovalchuk was shut out on six shots.
"Our number one priority was to shut him down and try to get under his skin," Burrows said. "... I think just going at him is part of my game."
Said Luongo of Kovalchuk: "Obviously, he is a big part of their team. We put a lot of focus on him. We didn't want to give him much room."
Dupuis scored 7:58 into the second period after Luongo stopped Tobias Enstrom's shot from the left circle. The deflection off Luongo's pads set up the follow shot by Dupuis for the 1-0 lead.
Sedin's tip-in goal 6:32 into the third period tied the game at 1-1. Sedin deflected a long shot by Mattias Ohlund from beyond the left circle. Ohlund returned to the team after leaving the road trip to attend to a family matter in Vancouver.
"Mattias had to go home for a family medical reason, and for him to take the red-eye last night to come here and play says so much about that individual and how much he cares about his teammates," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "I think that was a huge lift for us."
Luongo earned the two points with 26 stops, including a dazzler in the third off Eric Perrin.
Scored the lone goal for Atlanta and had six shots.
A minus one and no points, yet Atlanta media still give him the nod over the Sedins, Naslund, and Burrows - figure that out.
Vancouver's Jeff Cowan and Atlanta's Eric Boulton drew 5-minute penalties for fighting 6:18 into the game, setting the pace for a physical period.
Kovalchuk was involved in a brief skirmish midway through the period and then lost his helmet when he was knocked into the boards by Byron Ritchie with about 4 minutes left in the period.
Todd White was one of a group of Atlanta players who responded to the hit on Kovalchuk. Ritchie earned 2-minute minors for interference and roughing and White drew a 2-minute penalty for roughing.
There was more physical play in the first 20 minutes. Garnet Exelby was sent sprawling with a hard check from Matt Cooke, and Exelby immediately answered with two crowd-pleasing checks against different players before drawing a 2-minute minor for interference.
Atlanta's Chris Thorburn and Vancouver's Nathan McIver earned another set of 5-minute fighting penalties for their brawl 9:45 into the third period.
Rookie defenceman Luc Bourdon played just short of 18 minutes and finished the night a plus one, with two shots and three hits.
Notes: Dupuis ended a streak of eight games without a point. ... Atlanta was 15-1-2 when leading after two periods before losing the lead. ... Vancouver's last visit to Atlanta was March 16, 2002, when the Canucks beat the Thrashers 4-2. ... Thrashers defenseman Niclas Havelid was a scratch with flu symptoms. ... Canucks D Aaron Miller missed his second game with a foot injury.