RALEIGH, N.C. — Marian Hossa knows how to score against the Carolina Hurricanes. Johan Hedberg knows how to beat them.
Hossa had two goals and an assist, and Hedberg stopped the NHL’s highest-scoring team cold in the Atlanta Thrashers’ 3-0 victory over Carolina on Friday night.
"There are some games you just feel comfortable, and right now against them, I feel my game is good," Hossa said.
Hedberg made 31 saves for his 11th career shutout, Todd White assisted on both of Hossa’s goals and Ilya Kovalchuk had an assist and an empty-net goal. Hossa had his second multi-goal game of the season, with both coming against the Hurricanes. Six days earlier, he scored twice in the Thrashers’ 5-3 loss to Carolina.
"Those guys are clicking, obviously, and when that’s going, they’re pretty unstoppable," GM-interim coach Don Waddell said.
Cam Ward stopped 22 shots for Carolina, which entered with a league-leading 69 goals but couldn’t generate many quality scoring chances against Hedberg and the Thrashers, 9-4 since Waddell replaced Bob Hartley as coach on Oct. 18.
"Everybody’s committed to team defense and playing defense first," said Hedberg, crediting Kovalchuk for dropping to block a late shot and help preserve the shutout.
Hedberg, who last season won both of his starts and allowed two goals against the Hurricanes, had his first shutout since blanking Columbus in March 2004.
"Never do you come in here thinking you’re going to shut them out," Waddell said. "You come in here thinking you’re going to have to win 4-3 or 3-2 or something like that. To throw up a zero against that team, they’re a highly explosive team that (has) a lot of guys atop the scoring race, we have to be doing a very effective job for that to happen."
The Thrashers’ league-worst penalty-kill unit repeatedly frustrated a Carolina power play that entered as the league’s second-best. The Hurricanes, shut out for the second time this season, went scoreless on all four chances with the man advantage, the fifth time they failed to score a power-play goal — all losses.
"When our power play doesn’t work, suddenly we don’t score a lot of goals," Carolina captain Rod Brind’Amour said.
Carolina was shut out for the first time since Oct. 6 at Washington, was blanked at home for the first time since February, is on its second two-game losing streak of the season and has dropped three of five. The Hurricanes fell to 4-5 in divisional play and 7-1-3 against everybody else.
Hossa gave the Thrashers all the offense they’d need in the first period. His first goal came about 4«minutes into the game when he hustled down the ice, took a feed in the slot from White and beat Ward from point-blank range.
He and the Thrashers then made it a two-goal game by taking advantage of a critical Carolina turnover. Bret Hedican gave the puck away near the blue line, White scooped it up and passed to Hossa near the goal, and he beat a diving Ward with an easy backhand into an open net with about 5 minutes left.
"We got off to a bad start," Carolina defenseman Mike Commodore said. "You get down 2-0 against Atlanta or any team, and it’s tough to come back. We have the personnel in here to do it, (but) just couldn’t get anything going."Notes: Kovalchuk has 13 goals and 10 assists in the 13 games since Hartley’s firing. ... Carolina coach Peter Laviolette coached his 400th NHL game. ... D Niclas Wallin (shoulder, groin) was scratched for the Hurricanes, while LW Andrew Ladd returned after missing 16 games with an ankle injury.