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Thrashers come from behind to beat Stars -- finally

DALLAS (AP) -- The Atlanta Thrashers were due to beat the Dallas
Stars, and Marian Hossa helped make it finally happen.

Hossa scored twice, including a power-play goal in the final
minute of the second period for the go-ahead score, as the
Thrashers rallied for their first victory over the Stars, 5-2
Wednesday night.

Atlanta, which scored three straight goals during a span of 7:38
in the second period, had lost the first eight all-time meetings
with Dallas by a 25-13 margin before the Thrashers' decisive win.

"It's a great feeling," Hossa said. "They're one of the best
teams in the league and they're tough to beat. This should give us
lots of confidence."

The Thrashers hold the eighth and final Eastern Conference
playoff spot, and coach Bob Hartley said the road win against a
Western Conference power like the Stars can only give his team a
mental lift.

"This is a big step for us," Hartley said. "Who knows how
many points it's going to take to get into the playoffs. It's going
to be a fight for us. Not many teams from our conference will leave
this building with two points."

The Stars grabbed a 2-0 lead on power-play goals by Jason Arnott
and Mike Modano. But Atlanta came back to tie it at 2 behind
second-period goals from J.P. Vigier at 11:29 and Eric Boulton at
15:03.

With 53 seconds left in the second period and Atlanta holding a
man advantage, Scott Mellanby backhanded a pass to the front of the
net, where Hossa guided the puck past Dallas goalie Johan Hedberg.

Hossa added his 24th of the season at 10:05 of the third period,
catching Hedberg out of position. Hedberg had skated beyond the
right circle in an attempt to play the puck, but it came loose and
Hossa popped a shot into an open net.

"I thought (Hedberg) made some good saves in the second period
when they had a lot of pressure, but I think he was like some other
parts of our game, just not quite enough to win," Stars coach Dave
Tippett said.

Slava Kozlov's goal at 17:48 of the third period pushed
Atlanta's advantage to 5-2 as Koslov skated alone into the slot to
take advantage of Dallas' lax defense.

"There was a lot of loose coverage in our zone," Modano said.
"Guys got beat to the net. There's some little things that we got
away with and tonight it caught up with us."

Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots for the Thrashers, who've won
seven of their last eight. The Finnish rookie, who has won six of
his last seven starts, shut out the Stars on 13 shots in the third
period.

"I felt pretty lucky in the third," Lehtonen said. "They had
a lot of good shots but they weren't able to get the puck in the
net."

Hedberg, who finished with 16 saves, was unbeaten since Nov. 2.
He was subbing for Marty Turco, who was out with what the club
termed a "lower body injury." Turco could return to practice as
early as Thursday.

Arnott converted Jussi Jokinen's centering pass at 12:00 of the
first period, Arnott's 15th of the season, to give Dallas a 1-0
lead.

Modano struck on Dallas' third power play of the night, snapping
a shot from beyond the left circle into the upper right corner of
the net at 6:46 of the second period for his 17th of the season.

Game notes
The Stars began the night 27th in the league at home on the
power play, converting only 15 percent of their chances before
clicking on two of their first three. ... Dallas D Sergei Zubov
played in his 900th NHL game. ...Hedberg had allowed only two goals
over a span of 256 minutes and 25 seconds before giving up three in
the second period. ... Modano notched his 131st career power-play
goal, tying Dino Ciccarelli for second in franchise history. Brian
Bellows leads with 134. ...The Thrashers began the night with an
0-6 all-time record against Hedberg. ...Dallas recalled Mike Smith
from its minor league affiliate in Iowa to back up Hedberg.
...Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk had a streak of seven games with at
least one goal snapped.