Here is my story, with quotes, from Saturday night’s 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Rangers for those who would like to comment.
Ron Hainsey had some comforting words for Ondrej Pavelec.
They offered little consolation for the goaltender.
The Thrashers blew a third-period lead and lost in the shootout for the second straight game. The latest was a 3-2 defeat to the New York Rangers Saturday night at Philips Arena.
The Rangers got a shootout goal from Mats Zuccarello for the game-winner. It was the only time the Rangers led all night. Bryan Little, Nik Antropov and Niclas Bergfors failed to score on their attempts.
“He’s one of the best competitors I’ve met,” Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said of Pavelec. “I just love his attitude. He was mad tonight and deservedly so.”
Pavelec stopped 29-of-31 shots. The Thrashers have played three straight games that were decided by a shootout. They won in Florida and lost to Tampa Bay.
“Somebody gets an extra point and we didn’t again,” Pavelec said.
The Thrashers (23-18-9, 55 points) lost for the sixth time in the past seven games. They have just four wins in the last 15 games (4-7-4). They held onto eighth place in the Eastern Conference with the point and Carolina’s loss to Pittsburgh. They fell another point behind the seventh-place Rangers (28-19-3, 59 points).
“Getting one point is better than getting nothing at all but that’s a game where we should have had both of them,” Little said. “We didn’t help out Pavs much.”
The Rangers erased two one-goal deficits. The last one – with 5:19 remaining in regulation – was the killer.
The Rangers’ Brian Boyle tied the game at 2-2 with an individual effort. He chipped the puck past Thrashers defenseman Tobias Enstrom and then beat Dustin Byfuglien to the puck. His shot bounced off Pavelec’s shoulder and into the net.
“We have all kinds of guys back at 2-1,” Ramsay said. “We had everyone back. But we are so safe that we didn’t attack the play early. Then we had both defensemen go to the same guy in the middle of the ice and we get in a foot race and we lost.
“It’s frustrating to have a lead in the third period and cough it up again and have to go to the shootout. … It’s just aggravating to have veteran people on the ice and we end up getting scored on.”
The Thrashers, leading 2-1, survived a 5-on-3 penalty kill early in the third period. Little was called for a questionable holding call at the 15:09 mark. Just 36 seconds later Brent Sopel was called for delay of game when his clearing attempt went into the crowd.
The Thrashers opened the scoring with Antropov’s first-period goal. The big forward, planted in front of the Rangers’ net, tipped a shot from Enstrom past goaltender Henrik Lundqvist 6:47 into the game.
For Antropov it was his fourth point (one goal, three assists) in the past four games. Enstrom has 19 points (five goals, 14 assists) in the past 17 games. Tim Stapleton also assisted on the goal for his first point of the season.
The Rangers tied the game at 1-1 with Wojtek Wolski’s goal 2:43 into the second period.
The Thrashers regained the lead late in the second period. Anthony Stewart scored his 12th goal of the season — and second in two games — with 1:59 remaining in the middle period. Little skated the puck into the offensive zone and took a shot on goal. The puck hit Stewart, who was tangled with the Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh in front of the net. The forward gathered himself quickly and swept the loose puck into the Rangers’ net.
“We need to win,” Ramsay said. “There is no doubt. We need to fight for points. Every point is vital. So we got a point. But they have to understand the timing of this. Playing well is a good thing. Winning is better. We have to be willing to pay the price in the third period to win. That is the frustrating part. …
“We have to understand the desperation level that it takes late in games to finish people off, to win. We had some great efforts out there but we can’t let them slip like that.”
The second period featured the first fight of the season for Thrashers captain Andrew Ladd. After he checked the Rangers’ Marc Staal into the boards, Dan Girardi took exception. Ladd landed several punches and sent a bleeding Girardi to the locker room for attention.