Fourteen times the Thrashers have allowed an empty net goal, which is the league high. Not only is that indicative of how many one goal games the Thrashers have been involved in, but it also shows how inattentive the players on-ice can be to defense. A bad face-off cost the Thrashers against Vancouver, and a turnover by Tim Stapleton cost them tonight.
Aside from the two goals allowed in the first, Pavelec was perfect. The last two periods he stopped everything that the Canadiens threw at him, and overall stopped 26 of the Habs’ 28 shots. His counterpart Carey Price was sharper, however. He allowed just one goal on 31 shots, and the goal that he did allow more than likely never should have happened. Eric Boulton inadvertently high-sticked and cut Hal Gill on the way in on a rush, and no call was made on the play. Promptly after the high-stick, he passed the puck to Nik Antropov for the goal. The Habs argued – and got a make-up call on Dustin Byfuglien – but the goal stood.
Of course, it was a moot point when Andrei Kostitsyn scored the empty-netter. With that the Thrashers fall back to .500, stay at 76 points, and miss a chance to gain a couple on Buffalo. At this point, it doesn’t matter. The Thrashers’ season probably ended on two very similar, very avoidable empty net goals.
One hundred and ninety nine minutes and a second. That’s how long the Canadiens’ scoreless streak was. Eleven seconds was all that it took for them to break it with back to back goals on Ondrej Pavelec.
Despite having generally a solid first period, complete with a pretty good penalty kill, the Thrashers found themselves giving up back to back goals in under two minutes for the twenty-fourth time this season. Eight times have they come in 39 seconds or less. More often than not, Pavelec has been in net when that happens. Be it him getting easily rattled or distracted, or just general bad decisions, Pavelec does not seem to be able to bounce back from wonky goals scored.
Roman Hamrlik’s goal at 12:56 came after an initial save by Pavelec. Pavs lost the puck, which was between his pad and the left goalpoast, and in the ensuing battle around the net the puck was knocked in. Just eleven seconds later, Mathieu Darche popped home a goal as Pavelec was slightly slow getting back to the net after playing the puck against the boards. Pavs not only didn’t manage to get a puck to his teammates, he also managed to leave the crease open to Darche’s goal.
Chris Thorburn roughed stuff up with Travis Moen to get his team going – Moen shoved around Andrew Ladd – but it remains to be seen if the Thrashers can shake off those two goals and play a better second period.
Montreal has had a heck of a time finding the back of the net recently. They've been shut out in three consecutive matches, most recently 2-0 to the Washington Capitals. They're tied with the Rangers for 6th in the Eastern Conference, but just two points ahead of the 8th place Buffalo Sabres. If any team can empathize with how difficult it can be to snap out of an extended losing streak it's the Thrashers. While never hitting the shutout point that the Habs're at now, the Thrashers' entire January and February is an example of how not to break out of an extended slump. Thinking and worrying about losing begets more losing it seems, so the Habs have to shut out their recent troubles, put them in the past, and approach each game new.
The Thrashers lead the series two wins to one this season, and are in the midst of a 6-3-1 streak in their last ten that would have come in handy a month or two ago. It's more than likely too little too late for the Thrashers, who are in eleventh place and nine points out of the last playoff spot. Atlanta's amazing inability to maintain any sort of lead or momentum in a hockey game might be an open invite for the Habs to score. The Thrashers blew two two-goal leads on Sunday to the last-place Ottawa Senators, who forced an overtime that the game never should have gone to.