Thrashers get much-needed win

Here is my game story from Saturday’s 4-3 overtime win over the Panthers for those who would like to comment. The Thrashers – and me – are off on Sunday and return to practice Monday. I will report back then.

Andrew Ladd saved the Thrashers. So did Blake Wheeler. So did Dustin Byfuglien.

In turn, there is still playoff hope.

Ladd’s second goal of the game, 25 seconds into overtime, gave the Thrashers a 4-3 victory over Florida Saturday night at Philips Arena.

Ladd and Wheeler both scored twice and Byfuglien assisted on all four goals to keep the Thrashers in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

“Guys were confident tonight,” Wheeler said. “We had a different feeling in the locker room, even before the game. There was a different determination level, we were ready to put our heels in the mud and say ‘Enough is enough.’ Do whatever it takes to get two points, whether it’s overtime or regulation it doesn’t matter.”

The Thrashers (27-28-11, 65 points) remained 11th in the conference but moved to within six points of Carolina, Wednesday’s opponent, for the eighth and final playoff spot. The Thrashers snapped a two-game losing streak and won for the second time in the past nine games. They finished a five-game homestand 2-2-1 and play 10 of their final 16 games on the road.

Overtime was needed after the Thrashers couldn’t hold a two-goal lead in the third period. The Panthers’ Stephen Weiss and David Booth scored three minutes apart to erase a two-goal deficit before Ladd’s heroics.

In extra time, Byfuglien poked the puck away from the Panthers in the neutral zone and raced down the right side of the ice. He fired a pass on Ladd’s stick that the captain directed past goaltender Tomas Vokoun to set off a celebration.

“I knew it was coming hard,” Ladd said. “Buff doesn’t usually put in there too soft. I put a lot of pressure on my stick and tried to get it toward the net.”

Wheeler’s second goal with 13:30 remaining gave the Thrashers a 3-1 lead after he knocked in a loose puck at Vokoun’s skates following a Byfuglien shot.

The lead didn’t last.

Weiss scored a power-play goal at the 7:58 mark with Chris Thorburn in the penalty box for high-sticking, his third infraction of the game. Booth tied the score minutes later.

“It was a huge victory,” Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said. “They dug down. Sometimes those are the hardest ones, once you have the lead and you look good and you’re playing well, you suddenly cough up two goals and everybody starts to shrink on the bench.

“It takes each guy trying to be the best player they can be. If they do that, we’re a pretty good team.”

Ladd gave the Thrashers their first lead when he broke a 1-1 tie with a power-play goal 1:08 into the final period. The Thrashers finally scored on the Panthers’ vaunted penalty-kill unit, ranked third in the NHL.

It took the Thrashers 9:58 of power-play time to score with the man-advantage. Ladd’s goal, with two seconds remaining in the fourth power play, gave the Thrashers their first lead. Ladd, with a team-leading 25 goals, now has 10 points (nine goals, one assist) in the past 11 games.

The Panthers and Thrashers entered the final period tied 1-1 after a furious second period by the Thrashers. Wheeler tied the game just 43 seconds in with his second goal as a Thrasher. Ladd took a shot on Vokoun and Byfuglien, in front of the net, shoveled it to a wide-open Wheeler at the right side. Wheeler buried the opportunity.

The Thrashers outshot the Panthers 19-2 in the second period, not surrendering the first attempt until 1:10 remained. The Thrashers had 8:51 seconds of power-play time in the second period — including one four-minute double minor — but managed only four shots.

“That second period was the best we have played all year,” said Thrashers goaltender Chris Mason, who stopped 31 shots.

All six games this season between the teams, four won by the Thrashers, have been decided by one goal.

“We definitely made it a lot closer that we wanted,” Ladd said. “ … We found a way to win and that’s the most important thing. It’s nice to have a good feeling in this room after a tight game. The games before we were battling, battling, battling and it was tough coming into the room with a loss every time.

“It’s a big relief.”

Etc.

Rookie Alexander Burmistrov returned to the lineup after missing eight games with a broken bone in his right foot. Ben Maxwell was re-assigned to AHL Chicago when Burmistrov was activated from injured reserve.

44 comments Add your comment

thrash head

March 5th, 2011
10:51 pm

Big Wally

March 5th, 2011
11:06 pm

Brendan

March 5th, 2011
11:16 pm

I’m in SPAM filters, Chris.

Glad the home town fans got to see a win.

done and done

March 5th, 2011
11:20 pm

Hey Chris, what’s the truth behind the ownership crap at this time? All the Canadian outlets already have us gone. Have you spoken to anyone in the NHL lately? Do they even want us in the league anymore?
Haave you asked the Mayor any questions? Do the city leaders even care??? Inquiring minds need to know.

East Point Bob

March 6th, 2011
12:05 am

Good rebound.

Thrashy Thrashy

March 6th, 2011
12:51 am

Glad the guys are happy to win a game. I wouldn’t mind seeing them win a bunch down the stretch here. We’ve got so many kids on the team that winning means something, even if we’re out of the hunt.

Joe Friday

March 6th, 2011
1:18 am

good golly, it;’s darn lucky that Buf wasn’t shootin the puck too hard tonight and that Enstrom allowed it all to happen!

Charlie Sheen

March 6th, 2011
3:18 am

Denny Lambert

March 6th, 2011
6:33 am

Is it too little too late? Why does the mood before the game and in locker room change now? If they are finally stepping up that’s great, but where were they months ago? Getting Wheeler and Stuart for Pevs and Valabik was an absolute steal, the rest of the deadline day deals were asinine. Lets pull a Devils and win on out.

Frank G

March 6th, 2011
7:02 am

Chris I’d also like to see a piece on where government leaders stand on all this too. Crack the case open man! Dig Dig Dig….. So much on the line…Board of Governors meeting coming up soon in Fla., surely some resolve by then with next season’s schedule window closing soon?

IrishThrasher

March 6th, 2011
7:09 am

I want to see the headlines say Atlanta gets much needed second and third lines.

Jimbo

March 6th, 2011
7:40 am

C’mon Chris, they’ve simply re-arranged the deck chairs on the aft deck. This is still the Titanic. Stendec- where are you when we need real sarcasm???????

Bon Jovi

March 6th, 2011
7:53 am

Please don’t anyone resurrect stendec. He criticized the team when it was actually good and over achieving at the start of the year. I’m all for criticizing and being an armchair GM / Coach..but at least do it when it’s plausible.

Rob

March 6th, 2011
8:12 am

This team just won a 4-3 game, welcome to the new NHL. Keep scoring 4 a game and they’ll have a shot at the playoffs

The Real Thrash

March 6th, 2011
8:53 am

Let’s build from here. One game at a time!

Jimbo

March 6th, 2011
8:54 am

Rob- someone posted earlier that the Thrash would have trouble scoring at a Charlie Sheen party. Still believe that we can get 4 a game? If the Hockey whisperer had watched last year’s playoffs, we’d have big Buff causing mayhem around the net and we’d be in paradise. But the Clueless One feels compelled to tamper with success.

moriler

March 6th, 2011
10:18 am

Ugly win. Mason was careless on the first Florida goal and their third one was a complete fluke (someone blocked it about 10 feet out in front and it shot sideways right to a Panther). I’ll give the power play a pass for the moment because Florida really _is_ the 3rd PK in the league right now — when they decide to play only defense (such as on a PK or with a 3rd period lead) they are pretty good at it. Thorb took too many stupid penalties, someone ought to dunk his head in the ice bath.

Better hitting, the guys were a bit more awake. Good to see Buff lay out Hordichuk there — grab some wake-up call, Darcy, and keep your head up, eh? Wonder if they’re finally realizing you have to hit to win? Too many shots missing wide though. I’d rather they shoot it into the opposing goalie’s gut than miss wide — at least the gut gets us an offensive zone faceoff, the miss wide just creates a rush the other way with all our forwards down below the hash marks.

Not as good a game as some of the ones recently, but the 2 points matters more.

Bon Jovi

March 6th, 2011
10:48 am

speaking of hits, they still don’t hit enough, IMO and that’s one difference from the start of the season, the Thrashers were a lot more physical, losing Slater really removed the heart of this team, strange but true. Maybe new life from Stuart and Wheeler will help, Boston fans were wrong about Wheeler, he plays hard, does all the things Peverley refused to do, which is battle.

Not Blind

March 6th, 2011
10:53 am

OT. I just watched the Islanders – Blues recap. The Islanders were definitely NOT shooting the goalie’s logo !!!

jebediah

March 6th, 2011
10:56 am

Good win, but i found it concerning that nothing, not even GB has said anything related to saving this team and keeping them in ATL. Nothing outside of usual nonsense. They even have a Jets Meter on TSN in Canada

jim

March 6th, 2011
11:02 am

Phoenix Coyotes situation is now on the NHL’s front burner as something has to happen shortly.Glendale,Arizona is filing suit against the Goldwater Institute tomorrow morning (according to reports on ESPN and the Winnipeg Free Press) in an attempt to get the bond sale through to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix.If they move to Winnipeg then the Thrashers ownership situation becomes the next issue.If the Coyotes and NHL resolve the situation and bond sale goes through Atlanta is next on the radar.NHL won’t have the same level of patience they had with the Phoenix mess so hopefully there is a group seriously looking at Thrashers/Hawks/Philips Arena.I think Atlanta can support the NHL but the crowds have to be better…good to see over 15,000 out last night.No coincidence the team played better!

Iron League 13s

March 6th, 2011
1:38 pm

Well, very nice to see a win. I think someone said scoring 4 goals being necessary to win in the new NHL, spot on. Averaging 3 goals a game will only come close to guaranteeing about as many 1 point games as no point ones and at least a more entertaining product to follow.

On the PHX thing, I really hope it’s them before us, hate to say that. When the Thrashers win, if only for a minute the fans come out in good numbers FOR THEM. When PHX has a nice run after years of mediocrity (less then the Thrashers) and scandal (not worse than our travesties in ownership) they still can’t draw. What were they averaging? I think about 10k in attendance last year and much of this year. Again, if and when Atlanta gets on a roll FANS COME OUT. I know Detroit is a draw ANYWHERE, but that wa SAD, very SAD to see in Glendale last night, at least just as many fans of the Wings in the stands. If and when the Thrashers get going you will see lot’s of transplants at NYR, Detroit, etc., but not outnumbering Thrashers fans.

Anyways, the NHL did their part and if they have a choice in the matter (if not resolved) they need to step away knowing they gave it a shot. Atlanta deserves more of the NHL’s focus on ownership, they’ve not given us that chance. In fact they OWE us that having chartered this franchise and allowed such negligent people to own it since DAY ONE. Step up, Gary, over 5.5 million people live in metro ATL, vs about 1.6 million in PHX. My conservative guess is two million of our transplants are from co-opted and traditional markets, FIX IT!!!

Puck Like A Porn Star

March 6th, 2011
1:55 pm

What we need is an insider to reveal who the potential owners are.

Is the man behind the mask Arthur Blank? Bernie Marcus? Jimmy Carter?

ashtray

March 6th, 2011
4:53 pm

7K in Gwinnett, 15,800 at Philips. 23,000 hockey butts in seats last night. Tell me we aren’t a hockey town

Puck Like A Porn Star

March 6th, 2011
7:49 pm

And you’ll see 20,000 at Philips once this team is sold to a local owner.

FIRE ASG!!

Dan was my favorite Thrasher

March 6th, 2011
8:17 pm

To say the Thrashers are still alive in the playoff hunt is like Jim Carey’s chances with Lauren Holley in Dumb and Dumber.
“What are the chances?”
“Not good.
“Not good, like one out of a hundred?”
“Uh, I’d say one in a million.”
“So, you’re telling me there’s a chance! Yeah!”

Brendan

March 6th, 2011
10:11 pm

How many ticket reps have kissed the words, “not mathematically eliminated.”

New owners that CARE = a packed house. Maybe not quite “immediately,” but fairly soon thereafter.

Brendan

March 6th, 2011
10:17 pm

Ya know New Jersey won this afternoon, right? 3-2, in the shootout. Good game to watch, if you saw it on Center Ice. Buffalo squanderd a 2-0, but won, 3-2, in overtime versus Minnesota. It was a big point for the Wild, for their playoff race. The NY Rangers exploded for seven (7) goals, in a whitewashing of the Flyers, 7-0. Florida earned another ‘pity point’ over the Capitals today, in a 3-2 overtime loss. Washington, I think, leapfrogs TB, who lost yesterday to Montreal, 4-2. Nashville and Calgary are late in the 3rd period, with Calgary up, 3-2, on the Preds. Vancouver is shutting out the Ducks, 3-0, with 4 mins left in regulation.

done and done

March 6th, 2011
11:50 pm

Barfalo won tonight so the spread is 7 and Carolina is now on the outside looking in.

Eon Rodeo

March 7th, 2011
12:38 am

I was at the Ottawa game Thursday and the Florida game Saturday night and the difference in crowd energy was night and day! Still not quite at a Detroit/Chicago/Boston etc. level, but at least it felt like you were at an NHL game. Thrash put in a good effort and made it entertaining, but that’s the way they should play all the time. Thursday’s effort was pathetic and the crowd responded accordingly.
Go Leafs Go!

WOW

March 7th, 2011
7:26 am

Someone said it best: the season was over a couple of weekends ago in that debacle in Edmonton. That Ottawa game only twisted the knife.

Jimbo

March 7th, 2011
7:27 am

Brendan- let’s forget the math and start a FINISH THE PHRASE CONTEST. “THE THRASHERS CHANCES OF MAKING THE BIG DANCE ARE LESS THAN____________________________________________________________.

JT from Columbus

March 7th, 2011
7:42 am

Any updates on Ladd’s contract extension?

Thrashered

March 7th, 2011
7:46 am

First of all, Thrasher fans should send a thank you letter/email to the Goldwater Institute in Arizona. Their opposition to any public funding of the Coyotes probably means that the Phoenix franchise is on its way back to Winnipeg. So, one less place for the Thrashers to relocate. Beyond that, Quebec still doesn’t have a NHL caliber arena, would the NHL really put a team in Vegas (no) and Kansas City failed miserably when it had a new building and an expansion franchise (and not much has changed in KC since then). Also thank Commish Gary B for adding so many teams. The market is so saturated that there are few options for the relocation of the Thrashers. It’s not like 15 years ago when Denver and Phoenix were both open markets. So, Thrashettes, don’t worry about this team relocating unless the politicos in Arizona decide to pour more tax payer money down the NHL rat hole in Glendale. Instead, you are doomed to watch a team with bad ownership flounder in the realm of 9th to 13th place for the forseeable future. But, at least you will have NHL hockey in Atlanta.

Blow Up this "team"

March 7th, 2011
9:28 am

Thrashered: It’s nice to see you admit defeat. Now go away forever.

Winnypig

March 7th, 2011
9:33 am

Thrashered must be a TSN reporter who has no clue that the Octocluster is about to get bought out. Can’t wait to THRASH you limp sticked team with no budget next year.

Thrashered

March 7th, 2011
10:11 am

Nope, the only defeat here is amongst those stupid enough to think the NHL will ever be a success in Atlanta. It failed 30 years ago and has continued to fail again since 1999. Not to worry, I guess….there is some hero on the horizon who will ride to the Thrasher’s rescue and doesn’t mind losing tens of millions of dollars a year so 5,000 people can watch the team. Again, if there was anywhere for the Thrashers to go, they would be gone. And with the village idiot in charge of the NHL, there certainly won’t be the needed contraction of franchises down to 24. Hurry, call the Goldwater Institute folks and make sure they scuttle the Glendale finanacing. That way the only viable alternative market for the Thrashers will be out of the picture once the Jets move back home where they belong.

Blow Up this "team"

March 7th, 2011
12:32 pm

Hockey: It’s Atlanta’s Game.

DawgDad

March 7th, 2011
12:55 pm

Once there is a committed owner with the interests of the local fans as a primary focus the fans will follow and selling out the building won’t be much of a problem (weeknights are always tough). I have ZERO patience for people who blame any part of this debacle on Atlanta hockey fans. Ownership is responsible.

Alan R.

March 7th, 2011
1:02 pm

It failed 30 years ago and has continued to fail again since 1999.

No, it did not fail here 30 years ago, Mr. Revisionist History. I hear the yearly snow crop is done, so you might want to go harvest it instead of post here.

Truth

March 7th, 2011
1:32 pm

USA, USA, USA!!!!!

Toby

March 7th, 2011
1:41 pm

Hey…One of the 1,500 who live in Winnipeg said something. Neat.

Joe Johnson ATL Hawks

March 7th, 2011
2:32 pm

Hey Thrashered – don’t be a Moose Head or whatever you say up there.

Elrod

March 9th, 2011
4:35 am

move this team