Sunday afternoon, Slava Kozlov packed his bags, bade farewell to Jim Slater, Marty Reasoner and Nik Antropov…then exited Schnide Island. Slava took a pass from Todd White and beat Nikolai Khabibulin at the 11:59 mark of the third period to score what turned out to be the game-winner as the Thrashers bested the visiting Edmonton Oilers 3-2…extending their win streak to a season-high four straight.
Later, Reasoner almost left Slates and Antropov alone to battle it out for “Last Off Schnide Island” honors, but his blast rang off the post with just under two minutes remaining in the game.
Kozlov finished the day with that goal as well as a secondary assist on Zach Bogosian’s tally that opened the scoring early in the first period. He now has seven helpers on the season and his +1 for the game brings him to a -3 for the season.
Kaptain Kovy got the primary assist on Zach’s power play blast…giving him 8 overall points in the three games after returning from his foot injury. He now has 12 goals and 18 overall points in the 11 games he’s played in.
Mad-Max Afinogenov continued his brilliance of late with yet another goal. This time he took a Rich Peverley breakaway pass from the Thrashers’ blueline and slipped a backhander past Khabibulin to tie the score at 2-2 with just 22 second remaining in the second. At the time, Edmonton was attempting to kill off an Ethan Moreau hooking minor. Afinogenov has four goals in the three games since fellow countryman and linemate Ilya Kovalchuk returned last Thursday.
For the season Max has 7 goals and 10 assists…he’s also a +1. Not bad for a “defensive liability”.
Up to that point, the Oilers netminder had been unbeatable in the second as he’d turned away the first 12 Atlanta shots in that middle frame…many from close in. But Max’s nifty finish on the 13th got the better of him.
The Pevs Dispenser chipped in a pair of assists on the afternoon, bringing his season total to 15. His eight goals on top of that give him a team-high 23 overall points.
Johan Hedberg got the nod for today’s start and his 34 saves on 36 shots improved his season record to 4-1-0 with a .923 SV% and 2.63 GAA.
The Thrashers penalty killing unit continued their fine work on the season, killing off all five power play chances the Oilers were afforded. None more important than the holding the stick call Bogosian took with just 4:50 remaining in the game. Edmonton ended the game with a massive flurry around Hedberg, but the Thrashers’ trusty backup was up for the task and sent the Oilers out of town with the loss.
Atlanta converted on 2 of their three power play opportunities.
The Thrashers’ PK is currently the 5th best in the NHL…84.5% effective. The power play is successful 26.5% of the time, which tops in the league.
With the win, Atlanta leapfrogged over idle Tampa Bay to take over second place in the Southeast division. Their 10-6-1 record gives the one more point than the Lightning’s 20. Both teams have played 17 games. Washington has 28 overall points to lead the Southeast, but they’ve played 3 more games.
The Thrashers also moved past the Boston Bruins who, like the Bolts, have 20 points…Boston has played two more than the Thrashers, however. Atlanta will host Boston in their next game this coming Thursday night.
The 21 points now tie Atlanta with Philadelphia and the Islanders for 6th, 7th and 8th best in the conference. The Flyers have only played 16 games while New York has 20 games under their belts.
And finally…with three consecutive wins at home, Atlanta has pulled it’s record playing in Thrasherville to even at 4-4-0.