I take you back to Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 pm. In that post, your humble blog host opined that there was a mathematical formula in which the Atlanta Thrashers could take over sixth place in the Eastern Conference. All that needed to happen was for Tampa Bay to beat Montreal and the Hurricanes defeat the Rangers that evening. Then, on Thursday night, Carolina needed to return home to take care of the Islanders and…most importantly…the Thrashers would then need to take care of there end of the deal by beating the Flyers in Philadelphia.
And with that…Operation “Take Sixth Place” was a go!
First, the Canes smacked New York 5-1 while the Bolts were shutting out the Habs….and we’re halfway home. Then tonight, Carolina continued to hold up their end of the deal by thumping the Islanders 4-1. Three down…one to go. All that was left was for the Thrashers to do their part in Philly.
Well…I mean, at least we are in 6th place for now.
Behind a pair of goals from Jim Slater…and what in the world has gotten into this guy of late?…and one from Ilya Kovalchuk and Rich Peverley, the Thrashers did indeed catapult themselves into sole possession of sixth place in the east. They needed three in the third period to do so as they found themselves down 3-1 after 40 minutes of play.
The eventual game-winner was an absolute thing of beauty as Evander Kane streaked up the left side boards, wrapped himself around the backside of the goal and found an open Slater in front who simply had to direst the puck into an empty net.
In fact, it was very similar to his first period tally…that assist also going to Kane.
Kovalchuk got things rolling just 29 seconds into the third when he slipped behind the Flyers defense on a faceoff from the left circle. He then gathered the puck and moved in from left to right, getting Ray Emery to drop to the ice before lifting it top-shelf.
Peverley then tied the score less than four minutes later via a breakout pass from Pavel Kubina…he raced in one-on-one with Emery and buried his shot. Todd White earned a secondary assist on the goal.
Slater’s second goal of the night then put the Thrashers up 4-3 at the 13:28 mark.
And as exciting as all that was…play of the night honors goes to Johan Hedberg, who was making his third consecutive start. With just under four minutes to play and the Thrashers nursing a one-goal lead, Simon Gagne raced into Atlanta zone on the left side… Moose raced from his net to cut him off at the pass, sliding in to poke the puck away. In the collision, Hedberg lost his helmet…and almost lost his head.
In fact, it almost looked like he did as his jersey came up over his noggin. As play continued, he jumped back to his skates looking like the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.
For the night, Moose saved 34 of 37 shots faced and improved his season record to 12-8-4.
Tonight’s thrilling win, coupled with Tuesday night’s 2-1 victory over Anaheim, means the Thrashers have won back-to-back regulation wins for the first time since last November when they shutout Philly 1-0 then beat Florida 4-3 two night’s later.
Hmmmm…oddly enough, that’s the same night that Panthers’ netminder Tomas Vokoun almost lost his head.
And Now…It’s On To Nashville
Saturday night the Atlanta Thrashers make their way to the Music City of Nashville, Tennessee to take on the Predators…and they will not be alone. Hundreds of Thrashers fans will taking part in the Atlanta Thrashers Fan Club’s invasion of Sommet Center by hopping on buses and making the journey to Nashville.
I will also be making my way to the capital of Tennessee along with The Blueland Chronicle boys.
Local authorities have been notified and placed on high alert.
And Speaking of Bus Trips
The Thrashers, TJ’s Bar & Grill and I are planning another Thrashers Party Bus trip on Saturday March 20 when the Flyers return to Philips Arena. Like last October’s Trip-A-Paloosa, the bus will depart TJ’s Bar and Grill in Alpharetta, drop fans off at Philips for the game, then return to TJ’s afterwards.
$55 buys ya a lower-level ticket to the game as well as gets ya on the bus and avail you to the drinks onboard. Prizes will also be raffled off on the way down.
If interested, please shoot an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org…or leave me a message below.