For the second straight season, the Boston Bruins have hammered the final, official nail into the Thrashers’ playoff hopes. A well-played, spirited game couldn’t keep Atlanta’s hopes alive as they fell to the Bruins 3-2.
The first period ended tie at 1 all, with a goal from Mark Recchi into basically an empty net to start the game. The puck was loose and moving to the crease, and was misplayed by both Bogosian and Enstrom, and wasn’t tracked well by Pavelec. He was focused on where it was coming from, not where it was going – and it was going right to Recchi’s stick.
Tuukka Rask helped Atlanta out a bit six and a half minutes later, by playing the puck just slightly out of the trapezoid and getting a penalty called on Boston. Just one shot into the powerplay, Dustin Byfuglien ripped a shot that Rask overreacted to and knocked into his own net. Flukey or not, it was Byfuglien’s 20th of the season.
The next Thrasher to score would be Evander Kane in the second period, who caught a loose puck outside of Rask’s crease and batted it home. Kane was standing a bit further back in front of the blue paint, which gave him more time to react and get a better sightline on the net. That lead was short-lived, however, as Daniel Paille netted a shorthanded goal five minutes later to tie the game again. Bogosian short-passed the puck to Byfuglien, who completely overskated it and allowed Paille to fire it in over Pavelec’s shoulder.
The third period was dominated by Atlanta, and it looked as though they legitimately had a chance to win the game. They outshot Boston 15-6 but the game winning goal wasn’t even scored on an official shot. Zach Bogosian turned the puck over in the Boston zone to Michael Ryder, who went towards the net. Johnny Oduya, in an attempt to slow Ryder down, managed to both hook and trip Ryder at the exact same time, causing a penalty shot. Ryder’s penalty shot was high over Pavelec’s left shoulder, and the reaction time of the Atlanta goaltender was a bit too slow for the situation.
The Thrashers were officially eliminated this season by one of their more glaring weaknesses – the inability to stop penalty shots or succeed in other one-on-one goalie/shooter situations. Of course, when you add in the turnovers, lack of puck control, and general unawareness of puck location, you don’t have a game summary any more – you have a summary of the Thrashers’ second half of the season.
Atlanta plays out the stretch starting Tuesday night in Nashville, against a team that would love nothing more than to knock Detroit out of the divisional lead. Chris Mason’ll be playing against his old team, which should be entertaining – he’s usually solid against Nashville. Solid play or not, he won’t be in goal against the Rangers on Thursday – the rotating goaltender system continues, consequences to the team notwithstanding.