If the Thrashers slim playoff hopes were in serious condition coming into the game in Pittsburgh Saturday afternoon…they are now on life support after blowing a lead late in the third and then losing 4-3 to the Penguins in overtime.
The Thrashers had lead 3-2 late in the game and help 1-goal leads three times in the game…1-0 , 2-1 and 3-2.
With the score 3-2, Jimmy Slater was whistled for a holding call with 2:27 left and the Penguins capitalized on Sergei Gonchar’s power play goal with just 1:14 left before the period ended. The Thrashers then watched the much-needed second point skate away with the Penguins as Jordan Leopold scored 2:50 into the extra time…Sidney Crosby set up the goal with his 3rd assists on the day.
Maxim Afinogenov opened the scoring with 48 second remaining in the first period. It was his 24th of the year, setting a new career mark for goals scored. That’s right…24 goals from a player so “hurting” to sign with a team last summer that he came here for a measly $800,000.
Nicely done, Max!
After Evgeni Malkin tied the score at the 12:05 mark of the second, Tim Stapleton scored his second goal for the Thrashers…just two days after scoring his first. Pittsburgh struck again early in the third on Tyler Kennedy’s 12th of the season, but Rich Peverley put Atlanta up 3-2 just 1:04 later. It was number 22 for the Pevs Dispenser.
Johan Hedberg stopped 31 of the 35 shots he faced and his record is now 10-15-6 on the season.
Two of the Penguins goals came with a Thrasher sitting in the sin-bin, snapping Atlanta’s steak of nine games without surrendering a power play goal…they were 23 for 23 during those games and coming into today’s game had killed off 25 straight since last allowing a power play goal in the first period of their 4-3 win over Buffalo back on March 16.
Going into the today’s game, the Pens and Devils were ties for the Atlantic Division lead with identical 4-26-7 records. The Devils will play tonight against the Hurricanes in an attempt to equal Pittsburgh’s result this afternoon and remain deadlocked with the Pens. The two will not play each other in the remaining four games left on the schedule.
With the consolation overtime loser point, the Thrashers now have 81 for the season. This means the most they can amass is 87…and that’s only if they win all three of the remaining games on the schedule starting Tuesday when the New Jersey Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk come to town. But by that time, it could be all but over for the Thrashers ever-fading playoff aspirations.
The Canadiens have 84 going into tonight’s game against the Sabres and win there would give them 86. They will then travel to Long Island on Tuesday. Three points earned in those two games would mathematically eliminate the Thrashers from being able to finish as high as 6th in the conference.
Boston has 82 points with two games before Tuesday night…Toronto tonight and Washington on Monday. And the Flyers go into tomorrow afternoon’s game with the Red Wings also with 82 points…they will play in Toronto on Tuesday evening.
And then the Rangers will play in Florida tonight. New York will look to take over sole possession of ninth place with a win against the Panthers…moving the Thrashers to tenth in the Eastern Conference.
Going into tonight’s action…Montreal and Philly have four more games while Boston and the Rangers have five. Atlanta has three.
So…the Thrashers aren’t officially “dead” yet…but they are on life support, in serious need of help, the family has been called to the room, a priest has been called and the bugler stands by to play taps.