ATLANTA -- Mario Lemieux decided just before game time he was healthy enough to play. The rest came naturally.
Lemieux scored his first goal of the season and the Pittsburgh Penguins won for the third time in four games, beating the Atlanta Thrashers 4-2 Tuesday night.
''He doesn't need to touch the puck too often to make something happen,'' Pittsburgh winger Kevin Stevens said. ''He's the best player in the world, and he showed again tonight what he can do on one leg. He's amazing.''
Lemieux didn't practice for two days because of a hip flexor and decided to play just before the start of the game. Once on the ice, Lemieux ignited the Pittsburgh offense with a first-period goal that tied the score at 1.
''I was just trying to skate as well as I could,'' Lemieux said. ''Obviously, I was a restricted a little bit out there. I had a little bit of room out there and sometimes took advantage of it. I might as well play, I didn't come on the road to sit. It's time to play. I want to be out there if I'm feeling decent.''
Pittsburgh outshot Atlanta 39-17 and won for the third time in four games under head coach Rick Kehoe, who replaced Ivan Hlinka on Oct. 15.
Lemieux also added an assist for the Penguins, who outshot the Thrashers 31-12.
''You could tell he was ready to play,'' Kehoe said. ''When the team saw the opportunities he was getting and that he was working, they just followed his lead.''
The Thrashers took a 2-1 lead after one period on goals by their two rookie stars, forwards Ilya Kovalchuk and Dany Heatley, their top selections in the last two drafts.
The Thrashers were on the power play when the 18-year-old Kovalchuk scored his fourth goal of the season. Kovalchuk beat goalie Johan Hedberg just inside the near post.
Lemieux tied the score 27 seconds later. Toby Peterson's shot from the point bounced off the post, then off the left skate of Thrashers goalie Milan Hnilicka. While the Atlanta goalie looked for the puck, which was behind him and just inches from the goal line, Lemieux swooped in from the side and tapped the puck into the net.
Heatley gave the Thrashers a 2-1 lead with 3:15 left in the first period. He rushed the net, but as he started to swing his stick, Pittsburgh goalie Johan Hedburg tipped the puck up in the air. It hit Heatley in the face and bounced into the net.
Stephane Richer tied it at 2, and Michal Rozsival scored his first goal of the season on the power play to make it 3-2 with 3:58 left in the period.
Capitals 1, Lightning 1
TAMPA, Fla. -- Washington backup Craig Billington made 23 saves in his second start of the season as the Capitals and Tampa Bay played to a tie.
Nikolai Khabibulin turned aside 20 shots for the Lightning, who have allowed just seven goals in five games.
Andrei Nikolishin scored in the second period for the Capitals. Tampa Bay tied it on Martin St. Louis' power-play goal with 26.6 seconds left in the second.
Maple Leafs 2, Bruins 0
TORONTO -- Curtis Joseph made 30 saves for his first shutout of the season to lead Toronto past Boston.
Mats Sundin scored a power-play goal, and Travis Green scored into an empty net in the final seconds for the Maple Leafs (5-3-1), who won for the third time in four games. The shutout was the 33rd of Joseph's career.
Kings 7, Blue Jackets 1
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Adam Deadmarsh had two goals and three assists, and Los Angeles scored five times in the first period in the victory over Columbus.
Ziggy Palffy added two goals and an assist, and Jozef Stumpel had three assists for the Kings, who scored four power-play goals.
Devils 2, Senators 1
OTTAWA -- Patrik Elias scored midway through the third period as New Jersey beat Ottawa for the second straight game.
Petr Sykora scored a second-period goal, and Martin Brodeur finished with 28 saves for New Jersey (3-3-0-1), which extended is winning streak to three games.
Canucks 4, Predators 2
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Brendan Morrison had a goal and two assists as Vancouver snapped a four-game winless streak with a victory over Nashville.
Morrison set up an early goal by Ed Jovanovski, and assisted on Markus Naslund's third-period goal before completing the scoring with a wrist shot from slot with 2:44 remaining.
Sabres 4, Sharks 1
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Martin Biron made 19 saves to lead Buffalo to the victory over San Jose.
Rhett Warrener, Maxim Afinogenov, Tim Connolly and Vaclav Varada scored to help Buffalo gain a point for the fourth time in five games and take sole possession of first place in the Northeast Division.
Blackhawks 6, Flames 3
CHICAGO -- Kyle Calder had two goals and an assist as the Chicago stretched its unbeaten streak to five games with a victory over Calgary.
Calder's linemates, Alex Zhamnov and Tony Amonte, scored once and combined for three assists to help the Blackhawks snap the Flames' four-game winning streak.
Avalanche 5, Hurricanes 1
DENVER -- Shjon Podein scored two goals, and Joe Sakic and Alex Tanguay each had power-play goals to lead Colorado past Carolina.
Sakic's sixth goal of the season capped a three-goal flurry in the second period that gave Colorado a 3-1 lead.
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