Here is my game story, with quotes, from Thursday’s 3-2 shootout win over the Bruins for those who would like to comment.
Tim Stapleton ignored Anthony Stewart’s shootout advice.
Bryan Little did not.
They both scored to give the Thrashers a 3-2 victory over Boston on Thursday night, snapping a four-game losing streak. Ondrej Pavelec stopped both Bruins shots for his first career shootout win, breaking an 0-for-7 slump which included three losses this season.
Tobias Enstrom scored two power-play goals for the Thrashers in front of a season-high Philips Arena crowd of 17,624. The Thrashers improved to 20-14-6, 46 points. They have 17 points in the month of December, matching November’s total.
Stapleton, recalled from AHL Chicago earlier in the day, shot first and beat Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever seen [Stewart] stick handle,” Stapleton said. “He had a bunch of moves for me and I didn’t listen. I had my move planned. You are better off just shooting. I try to go low glove a lot. Last night when I was down in Chicago in the shootout I went high glove and shot it in Section 300.”
After Pavelec stopped Bruins rookie Tyler Seguin, Little heeded Stewart’s words.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do and I heard Stewy yell to shoot five-hole,” Little said. “I went down the bench and asked him ‘What did you say?’ He said ‘Fake the shot, move to the side and shoot five-hole.’ That’s exactly what I did and it worked.”
Stewart said he noticed Thomas was vulnerable between his legs.
“I said forehand, backhand, triple deke and five-hole,” Stewart said of his advice to both shooters. “He’s given it up all night. Good advice, I guess. I told Stapes to do it and we had a debate on the bench and he said ‘No, I’m going to go low glove.’ Oh well.”
Pavelec stopped Blake Wheeler’s attempt to give the Thrashers a 2-0 win in the shootout. Pavelec, who finished with 42 saves, admitted his woeful shootout record bothered him.
“I just said ‘Now or never. Now is the time. Now I have to do it,’” Pavelec said. “All the time you want to help your team get two points. We could be out of the playoffs because we lost in the shootout and I didn’t help the team in the shootout. Of course it bothered me. I’ve been working on it. I tried not to think about it.”
The Thrashers moved ahead of Boston’s point total (20-11-5, 45 points) in the Eastern Conference, snapping the Bruin’s three-game win streak that began last week against the Thrashers. The Thrashers also remained in seventh spot, tied for the fifth highest point total in the conference, and remain three points behind Tampa Bay and Washington in the Southeast Division.
The teams entered extra time tied after trading goals in each of the first two periods before a scoreless third and overtime.
Enstrom got the Thrashers started with a power-play goal early in the first period, the first of two on the night. His point shot, with Marc Savard serving a slashing penalty, narrowly missed two Bruins defenders before it got past Thomas. The goal, at the 3:23 mark, marked the 20th time in the past 27 games the Thrashers have scored first. It also was the Thrashers’ fourth power-play goal in 38 chances over the past 12 games.
Patrice Bergeron cashed in on a Thrashers neutral-zone turnover to tie the game. The forward intercepted Enstrom’s pass and broke in on Pavelec. His shot trickled through Pavelec’s legs at the 14:09 mark. Bergeron scored a short-handed goal on a breakaway in last week’s win over the Thrashers in Boston.
The Bruins jumped to a lead 55 seconds into the second period. Blake Wheeler got behind the Thrashers’ defense, streaked in on Pavelec and wristed a shot high over his right shoulder.
Enstrom scored his second power-play goal of the game with 17 seconds left on a tripping penalty on Nathan Horton. His penalty nullified a questionable goaltender-interference call on Stapleton. His point shot beat Thomas, with Andrew Ladd screening the goaltender.
“It feels good,” Enstrom said of his two goals. “In the end it’s all about winning. I love when the team wins and hate when we lose. Tonight is a good night for us.”