Tonight might very well have been the most exciting game played at Philips Arena since the home opener. It’s always fun when the Sabres come to town just based on the give-and-go between the fans, but tonight’s game was special. The Thrashers were looking to build on the momentum of the win Wednesday night in New York, and they did.
The first period found the Thrashers short two goals and a Bryan Little. Little left the game at 3:33 of the first period with a facial laceration and did not return; this came after being hit in the upper body with a puck in the game against the Rangers. Buffalo managed two goals in the first, neither of which were directly Mason’s fault. He had no chance in getting to this shot by Jordan Leopold (scored at 13:40 of the first period):
Luckily, the Thrashers apparently enjoy playing down a few goals, because the second period was much better. Antropov scored this powerplay goal at 9:53 of the second period (his first of the season) after careful set-up. There’s something to be said for thinking things through.
Just around four minutes later, Alexander Burmistrov scored his first NHL goal. I have never seen someone so happy in person. Of course, he’s been the happiest person I’ve probably ever seen since he’s been drafted, so this comes as no surprise.
Bergfors scored another power play goal less than a minute into the third period, as Patrick Kaleta took an ill-advised run at Dustin Byfuglien after the horn had sounded, and earned himself a roughing penalty. Unfortunately, Buffalo scored with the extra attacker with just over seven seconds to go in a fairly questionable manner. It was odd to see Buffalo the team benefiting from being the ones with the guy in the crease tonight.
Dustin Bufyglien was the straw that broke the Buffalo’s back tonight, though. He set up his own goal at 4:31 of the overtime period, proving that yes, the Dustin Byfuglien Experiment has been more than successful in Atlanta thus far.
The powerplay scored twice tonight, and the penalty kill was perfect in what seems to be a turn around in the Thrashers’ initially sloppy special teams play. Other teams apparently have made Burmistrov the target of their ire, and if they can continue to target him inappropriately, and if Burmistrov can keep drawing penalties, the power play might extend their scoring streak by a few more games.
Chris Mason also made some outstanding saves tonight, playing like the Mason that I knew and loved in St. Louis. Speaking of the Blues, the Thrashers are on their way to the Gateway City tonight. They’ll be playing my hometown team tomorrow at 8:00 Eastern. No television from SportSouth, but if you have Center Ice or GameCenter Live, you will be able to catch the always excellent Darren Pang and the FoxSports Midwest broadcast.
I will attempt to remain as neutral as possible, though the games between my two favorite teams are always tough for me.