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Ward, Hurricanes beat Thrashers 3-2 in shootout

Cam Ward stopped 45 shots and the Carolina Hurricanes earned their second straight comeback win, beating the Atlanta Thrashers 3-2 on Sergei Samsonov's decisive shot in the third round of a shootout Thursday night.

One night after Ward was pulled after giving up three early goals before Carolina's comeback for a 4-3 win at Florida, the Hurricanes again played from behind after trailing 2-0 through two periods. This time, Ward remained in net for the win as Brandon Sutter and Eric Staal had third-period goals.

The Thrashers lost their second straight — both in shootouts — and were stopped in their bid to pull even with Washington for the lead in the tight Southeast Division.

Chris Mason stopped 27 shots for Atlanta.

Jussi Jokinen also scored in the shootout for Carolina. Nik Antropov scored in the first round of the shootout for Atlanta before Ward blocked shots by Bryan Little and Dustin Byfuglien.

Evander Kane and Anthony Stewart each had a goal and an assist in the second period to give Atlanta a 2-0 lead. Carolina pulled even with goals by Sutter and Staal in the first 6 minutes of the third.

Following a scoreless opening period, the Thrashers appeared to score on a shot by Tobias Enstrom on a power play midway through the second period. The goal was disallowed after officials ruled Atlanta's Antropov was in the crease.

Only 10 seconds later, Kane scored on Stewart's assist for the 1-0 lead late in the power play. Stewart added to the lead when won a battle at the net and scored with 1:04 remaining in the period.

Trailing 2-0, the Hurricanes scored their first goal only 26 seconds into the third. Mason blocked a shot by Jamie McBain before Sutter pushed the deflection past Mason's stick for the goal.

Staal scored from the left circle exactly 6 minutes into the third period shortly after Ward's save on the other end of the ice on a shot by Kane.

Notes: The division rivals met for the first time. The teams split six games last season, with the visitor winning every game. ... Carolina completed a 3-1-1 road trip. ... Ward, who started his ninth consecutive game, improved to 3-3 in shootouts. ... Mason is 1-1 in shootouts with Atlanta's only win.