Was I worried at all when the Thrashers found themselves down 2-0, having to pull their goalie with around two minutes left to play in the game? Did I sweat at all knowing they were in danger of losing their fifth consecutive game and continue their January death spiral towards the lower portion of the Eastern conference standings?
Nahhhhhhhh…I know the Thrashers had the Florida Panthers just where they wanted them all along.
Yeah, your Sarcasmatron just went off.
Brian Little came up big on this night…scoring to get the score to 2-1 with just under two minutes left in regulation then helping to set up Chris Thorburn’s game-tying tally just 44 seconds later. Little then notched a score in the shootout to help procure the win.
And while it’ll be natural to marvel at Little’s late-game heroics, go on and on about how well Ondrej Pavelec played between the pipes, stopping 38 of 40 shots, and voice appreciation for the hard work put in by the likes of Toby Enstrom, Evander Kane and Nik Antropov…please do not let the moment pass here without tossing a couple of accolades in the general direction of Ron Hainsey. The defenseman played his butt off all night long and played a key role in keeping the game close enough for his teammates to then do something about it.
In the third period, Hainsey even made what I would call the save of the night by laying out to knock away a Panthers shot towards a gaping Thrashers goal. At the time, the play kept the game scoreless.
For much of this game, the Thrashers played well and fought hard… even managed to kill off a couple of Florida power plays through the first two periods. But a 5 on 3 goal followed by ricochet off of Brent Sopel put Atlanta in a 2-0 hole with under 13 minutes to play.
However, unlike previous outings, this time around they didn’t let a couple of bad breaks deteriorate into a complete on-ice break down. They held it together and continued to work hard and found a way to come out of the Sunshine State with a winning glow about them.
On this night, they were…if I may…un-fragile. And this kind of victory might just be what the doctor ordered for what has been ailing this Thrashers team of late.
Oh don’t get me wrong, I don’t advocate using the ‘ol “Get Down 2-0 With under Two Minutes Left To Play Then Tally To Tie The Game And Win It In a Shootout” strategy too often in a season. But snatching the victory out of the proverbial jaws of defeat the way they did against the Panthers is just the kind of thing that can…ahem… catapult a team into a nice run.
Hopefully that’ll be the case here as the Thrashers face the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday night. They haven’t beaten the Bolts since opening night of last season but find themselves just four points behind both them and the Washington Capitals at this time.
The Caps play in Philly Tuesday night while the Lightning host the Columbus Blue Jackets.