What an atrocious performance by a team that absolutely knew that they had to win the game that they were playing tonight. The Thrashers faced a team that are all but eliminated from the playoffs – who had nothing to play for – and made them look like the Tampa Bay Lightning. Chances were there, and bounces were there, but the Thrashers were facing a back-up goaltender in Kevin Poulin. Thrashers and back-up netminders never seem to mix, and Atlanta gave the veteran of eight games a chance to shine tonight.
Freddy Meyer scored Atlanta’s lone goal in the first period on assists from Nik Antropov and Alexander Burmistrov. The shot as Meyer was going behind the net hit Poulin in the back of the skate and slid into the net. After a lengthy, inexplicable review of the play, the goal was ruled good – and it was the only goal of the night for the Thrashers.
The second period was horrendously sloppy. After outshooting the Islanders 10-8 in the first period, Atlanta managed nine shots to New York’s seventeen in the second. Goals from Travis Hamonic, Kyle Okposo, and an extremely stoppable powerplay goal by P.A. Parenteau led the Islanders out of the second period with a 3-1 lead. Niclas Bergfors was in the box for delay of game, which was Atlanta’s only penalty in the matchup. The Islanders also only had one penalty; Okposo was called in the first period on tripping, and the Thrashers obviously failed to convert.
Okposo scored once again in the third period. Atlanta was out-shot by the Islanders 33-26.
Okposo was outstanding tonight, scoring twice and adding an assist. John Tavares, also, had a solid night of playmaking, netting assists on two of the four goals scored by the Islanders.
Dustin Byfuglien was scoreless again tonight, extending his scoring drought to eleven games. He did have four shots on goal and finished even on the evening. He’s obviously missing playing with Tobias Enstrom, and the powerplay is missing Toby as well. Bogosian-Byfuglien were serviceable, but it was surprising to see Brent Sopel out on the powerplay with Johnny Odyua, when Sopel’s more suited to the penalty kill. Sopel’s ice time also dwindled as the game continued, from 6:03 in the first period to 4:09 in the third. He was on ice for three of the four goals against.
Atlanta caught a break tonight in that the Boston Bruins were able to beat the Carolina Hurricanes, 3-2 to maintain the playoff status-quo. Carolina plays the Maple Leafs Thursday evening as the Calgary Flames come back to their birthplace here in Atlanta. Time for some more scoreboard watching.