Here is my game story from the Thrashers’ 2-1 shootout loss to the Panthers Friday night for those who would like to comment.
The Thrashers need to find ways to win.
They didn’t again Friday night.
Florida got a sixth-round shootout goal from Steve Bernier for a 2-1 victory Friday night at Philips Arena.
It was the fifth consecutive loss for the Thrashers (25-26-11, 61 points), whose playoff hopes are fading fast. The Thrashers are 11th in the Eastern Conference, six points behind eighth-place Carolina. The Thrashers have only six wins in the past 27 games and are 1-7-2 in the past 10.
“We found a way to play another great game,” Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said. “Forty-six shots. We did what we wanted to do. We were very aggressive. We showed some real speed up the ice. Then, pucks didn’t go in again.”
The Thrashers got a huge effort from goaltender Chris Mason, who entered the game to start the second period for Ondrej Pavelec. Mason stopped all 25 shots he faced through two periods and overtime. He made a huge shot on a breakaway by the Panthers’ Michal Repik in the final seconds on overtime to force the shootout.
“It’s frustrating,” Mason said. “We feel we are playing OK, but we are not getting the job done. We are not getting the points we need. You can’t be happy playing well. You have to do the extra things that are going to get you in the playoffs. For us, this is playoff hockey. If we don’t win now, we don’t get in.”
The Thrashers nearly had the go-ahead goal in the third period when Dustin Byfuglien blasted a point shot that hit the post, causing an echo throughout the arena.
The teams entered the final period tied 1-1. What else would you expect? All five of their games this season have been decided by one goal, the Thrashers winning three of them.
Blake Wheeler got his first goal as a Thrasher in the second period to tie the game. Wheeler, playing his third game after being acquired Feb. 18, jammed a puck past Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun with 2:48 left in the second. Wheeler squeezed the puck past Vokoun’s right pad and the goal post.
“It doesn’t really mean much,” Wheeler said of his goal. “You have to get two points. This time of year and the situation we are in it doesn’t matter individually what you do. … That’s the frustrating part of it. You come out empty handed. Tonight we got one point but you feel like you should have two. You want to have faith in what you are doing and sooner or later it’s going to change.”
Wheeler also scored the Thrashers lone shootout goal.
The Panthers opened the scoring 7:13 into the game as former Thrasher Marty Reasoner beat Pavelec with a wrist shot. Reasoner’s 12th goal of the season came on the Panthers’ fourth shot of the game. They finished with only seven shots in the opening period, but led going into the intermission.
“We are getting great play from an awful lot of guys,” Ramsay said. “The pucks just don’t go in. But they will.”
Pavelec left with an undisclosed injury suffered during first-period play. He remained on the bench for most of the game and was said to be available if something happened to Mason.
Notes: Forward Fredrik Modin was activated from injured reserve and was in the lineup. Modin missed the past five games with a mid-body injury. It has been an injury-plagued season for Modin, who has missed 24 games because of injury. The longest stint he has been able to play between injuries has been seven games. Patrick Rissmiller was re-assigned to AHL Lake Erie. … The Thrashers played their first game without veteran defenseman Brent Sopel, traded Thursday to Montreal. “He’s a true professional,” coach Craig Ramsay said. “He’ll be missed in the locker room. He’ll be missed on the ice. Other guys need to step in there.”