Tim Stapleton scored 1:38 into overtime to help the Thrashers to a 3-2 victory that snapped two streaks — a six-game road winless streak and a four-game losing skid to the Hurricanes.
"We finally did it," Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec said. "(The losing streak) didn't mean we didn't play well against them — we played really well against them, but we couldn't find a way to win. Finally, we did it tonight, and it's a big win for us."
Rob Schremp and Tobias Enstrom scored first-period goals and Pavelec made 35 saves.
Erik Cole and Troy Bodie scored for Carolina. The Hurricanes earned a point for getting to overtime to move into a tie with Buffalo for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Atlanta is five points behind the Hurricanes and Sabres.
Cam Ward made 26 saves for Carolina.
"We've got to get a little more concerted jump," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "I don't think we were nearly as aggressive on our forecheck or physically aggressive."
After Cole tied it at 2 on a breakaway with 7:39 remaining, Stapleton scored on a 2-on-1 rush in overtime, converting a nice pass from Ron Hainsey. Stapleton deflected Hainsey's pass past Ward's left pad.
"We really wanted to get out without giving up an extra point," Atlanta coach Craig Ramsay said. "Once they scored that goal, it certainly feels really good."
The Thrashers jumped on the Hurricanes early.
After Blake Wheeler nearly scored from the side of the net on the power play, Schremp snapped a shot past Ward's glove, giving the Thrashers a 1-0 lead 3:22 into the game.
Enstrom then one-timed a shot from the slot, giving Atlanta a 2-0 edge later in the period. Carolina cut it to 2-1 midway through the second period. The puck got caught in Enstrom's skates after wrist shot from point by Carolina's Bryan Allen. Bodie controlled the puck in the slot and snapped it past Pavelec's glove. It was Bodie's first goal with the Hurricanes.
Carolina's Cory Stillman hit the crossbar after nice pass from Cole on a 3-on-2 rush shortly thereafter. Stillman then set up Cole's breakaway goal in the third with a perfect pass through the neutral zone.
"(Cole) came off the bench and nobody saw him," Ramsay said. "He got that full-speed pass. Not many guys pass it better than Stillman on a play like that. I could see him loading it up, and I yelled from the bench, but it was too late."
Atlanta star defenseman Dustin Byfuglien missed the game because of a lower-body injury sustained in practice Monday.
NOTES: Joni Pitkanen played in his 200th game for the Hurricanes. ... Atlanta is 6-13-5 in its last 24 games. ... Allen recorded his first point for the Hurricanes since being acquired from Florida on Feb. 28.