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Atlanta Thrashers At Philadelphia Flyers: Final Score - Thrashers 5, Flyers 4 (OT)

These are the type of games that make being a Thrashers fan so exasperating and yet so much fun all at once. They manage to allow easy goals with a lack of defense and observation skills, and then in the third period they flip a switch and come out, pardon the word, flying.

The first period was not a particularly solid one defensively. Daniel Briere, Scott Hartnell, and Ville Leino were set up in front of Pavelec with absolutely no one challenging them, and no one to cut off passing lanes. Briere to Hartnell to Leino on Pavelec’s right side, and it’s 1-0 Philadelphia. It was a pin to a balloon, considering how much pressure the Thrashers put on the Flyers, and how sharp they looked.

The Thrashers were on the powerplay with Darrol Powe in the box for hooking when the game’s focus started to fall apart. The Flyers are excellent shorthanded, and Kimmo Timonen’s goal proved why. Timonen and Mike Richards took advantage of a turnover in the Flyers’ zone and streaked the puck directly at Pavelec. Richards’s shove of the puck at Pavs was initially blocked, but Timonen was smartly at the other side of the net, ready to knock it in. Dustin Byfuglien was directly between the two, and yet still managed to not block the passing lane, as he was tracking Richards and not the puck. His whacks at Timonen’s stick in a half-hearted attempt to keep the puck out were atrocious.

Later that period, Leino scored his second of the game on a deflection of a Richards’ shot. Once again, he was allowed to stand unopposed and completely uncovered at Pavelec’s right hand side, and he was ready to pounce on the puck when Pavelec bounced it off of his pads. Also basically undefended on the play were both Richards and Hartnell, seeing as how Johnny Oduya is under the impression that a tap of a stick in the direction of an opposing player is called “defense.”

Down 3-0, the Thrashers started the third period with Chris Mason in net to shake things up. The change worked right off of the bat, as Evander Kane scored his eighteenth goal of the year with a helper from Ron Hainsey to get Atlanta on the board. Kane nabbed a clear by Hainsey at center ice and drove hard to the net, flipping the puck in over Sergei Bobrovsky, who dropped a bit too quickly.

Zach Bogosian, who has been firing the puck a lot more recently, scored the Thrashers’ second goal of the night when one of his slap shots finally found its mark. Bobrovsky looked like he had a clear view of it, and he reacted like he had blocked the puck, but it squeaked through regardless and the Thrashers pulled within one.

Leino didn’t want to be outdone, so he decided to add to the mounting list of opposing players who have scored hat tricks against Atlanta. Mark Stuart was called for playing with a broken stick that he didn’t notice, and Leino took advantage, firing a shot from above the right circle that completely flew past Chris Mason glove side.

Normally this would signal the end of Atlanta’s evening, but they took the hats on the ice as a cue to ramp it up a notch or 12. Four minuts later on the power play, Tobias Enstrom scored his tenth goal of the year and his 51st point of the season by flying up the right hand side, catching a pass from Anthony Stewart, and wristing it past a stick-less Philadelphia goaltender who was sprawled on the ice.

With less than a minute to go and Chris Mason on the bench, captain Andrew Ladd caught a rebound of a Bryan Little shot by using one of Philadelphia’s tricks against them – he was camped out undefended to Bobrovsky’s right, and tapped the rebound in.

In the Thrashers fourth overtime game in a row, they unleashed their secret OT weapon: Ron Hainsey. Responsible for setting up Tim Stapleton’s overtime winner in Carolina, Hainsey decided to go on and score this game winner on his own. Evander Kane came streaking down the left side and, with the patience of Job, held the puck past a sprawling Timonen, passed it around him to Hainsey, and assisted on the game winning goal.

The Thrashers now sit four points out of 8th place in the Eastern Conference, pending the late results of tonight’s game between the New York Rangers and the San Jose Sharks. They are 3-0-1 in their last four games, which is a pleasant turn-around from how the month of February ended and the month of March began.

Kane ended the night with a goal and an assist, as did Hainsey and Ladd. Anthony Stewart had two assists, and Chris Mason was credited with his tenth win of the year as the team gets back on the right side of the .500 mark. Next up is the New Jersey Devils yet again, who just defeated the Thrashers Saturday night 3-2 in overtime, and who sit two points behind Atlanta in the standings.

Let’s not give our fans a heart attack watching that game too, huh guys?

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.