I take back everything that I have said regarding Tim Stapleton today. In a case of right place, right time, Stapleton managed to bring the Thrashers two points closer to a playoff spot.
Thrasher-killer Erik Cole scored the tying goal on Ondrej Pavelec at 12:21 of the 3rd. You could almost feel the fact that he was going to score as he was moving towards Ondrej Pavelec, past a diving Tobias Enstrom. And he did, wristing a shot above Ondrej Pavelec’s extended blocker. It was, to borrow from Yogi Berra, deja vu all over again.
It was even more deja vu when these two teams made it to their fourth overtime of the season in five games. Admittedly, most Thrasher fans were waiting for the puck to manage to make its way back to Cole for the overtime winner yet again. In an extremely pleasant turn of events, the unlikely streaking duo of Ron Hainsey and Tim Stapleton barreled down on Cam Ward. With the puck on Hainsey’s stick, Stapleton went to the open corner of the net and tipped in Hainsey’s absolutely perfect pass for the game winning goal. It was Stapleton’s second goal of the season and Hainsey’s ninth assist.
Tonight was Atlanta’s first back-to-back win since January 2nd and 5th.
Tonight’s win leaves the Thrashers five points back of idle Buffalo, who play the Boston Bruins tomorrow night. It also leaves them one point behind the Maple Leafs for 10th place. The Leafs face Philadelphia on Thursday as well.
It’s an uphill climb to the playoffs to be sure, but like I said before, don’t tell these guys that.