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Boston
Bruins
29-37-16
Atlanta
Thrashers
41-33-8

32 SOG
24 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
BOS
ATL
game recap

Bruins 3, Thrashers 2

Tuesday, 08.16.2011 / 5:48 AM

Associated Press

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Bruins 3, Thrashers 2
Boston Bruins 3, Atlanta Thrashers 2

ATLANTA (AP) - The Boston Bruins had plenty of chances to score on the power play.

They waited until the Atlanta Thrashers evened things up.

P.J. Axelsson scored with 7:02 remaining and the Bruins edged closer to playoff contention, beating the Thrashers 3-2 Tuesday night.

Boston spent much of the third period with an extra skater - and even a couple of two-man advantages. But the teams were at even strength when Axelsson scored his first game-winning goal of the year.

After the Bruins controlled a faceoff, Brad Isbister played keepaway in the corner, then passed off to Wayne Primeau behind the net. Primeau spotted Axelsson alone in front, and the winger knocked his ninth goal past Thrashers goalie Keri Lehtonen.

"It was a hardworking goal," Axelsson said. "I didn't see any of it. I just shot it. I was too close to the net. There was a lot of luck in it."

Boston is playing its best hockey of the season, winning for the fourth time in six games and losing the other two in shootouts. The Bruins closed to within four points of the Thrashers, who hold down the eighth spot - the final playoff position - in the Eastern Conference.

"We've been playing consistently good for three or four weeks, but not always getting the results," coach Mike Sullivan said. "This group is starting to define itself."

The Thrashers are mired in a three-game losing streak - their worst slump since a five-game skid that ended in early December. Atlanta followed that with a 13-2-3 run, surging into contention for the first playoff berth in franchise history.

Now, they need another turnaround.

"When you look at the standings, it's all jumbled up," Atlanta coach Bob Hartley said. "There's still plenty of games. But you don't want to give up games that could come back to haunt you at the end of the year."

Hartley was very upset with the officials, who called five straight penalties on the home team in the first 10:04 of the third period. The Thrashers spent more than eight minutes killing them off - including two stretches totaling 1:43 in which they were two skaters down.

Afterward, Hartley complained to an NHL supervisor who attended the game.

"I thought I got the answers I wanted, but it doesn't matter," the coach said. "It's still a loss in the standings."

The Thrashers killed off the penalties, but Axelsson scored just over a minute after the last one ended.

"Obviously, we wanted to score on the power play," he said. "We had a lot of chance to score. We just missed. It was nice to see we didn't slow down."

The Bruins scored a couple of fluky goals off Lehtonen, and the Thrashers picked up one when Boston goalie Tim Thomas knocked the puck into his own net.

With 4 1/2 minutes left in the first period, the puck took an unexpected bounce off the boards behind the net and wound up in front of Lehtonen. Marco Sturm swatted it just inside the post before the goalie could get a stick on it, giving Boston a 1-0 lead.

Brad Stuart tied the game at 2 just past the midway point of the second period. With the Bruins on the power play, Stuart skated in on Lehtonen's left side and fired the puck in front of the net. It might have gone wide, but Atlanta defenseman Niclas Havelid inadvertently deflected it into his own net.

The Thrashers grabbed a 2-1 lead with goals just 1:25 apart late in the first period. Scott Mellanby deflected in a power-play goal from about 20 feet in front of the net off a slapshot by Jaroslav Modry.

Then Marc Savard scored a strange one on a break into the Bruins zone. He skated past the net but wound up with the goal when he attempted to pass in front. Thomas, sprawled in the crease, knocked the puck in himself with a swat of his blocker.

Notes: RW Peter Bondra returned to the Thrashers lineup after missing 22 games with a groin injury. He played about 15 minutes and was held without a shot. ... Atlanta is hopeful that injured C Bobby Holik will be able to resume skating next week. He's out with a broken foot. ... Both goalies got plenty of help from the guys in front of the. Thrashers D Greg de Vries blocked four shots, and RW J.P. Vigier got in front of three. For Boston, D Stuart and RW Tom Fitzgerald each had a pair of blocks.

scoring summary
1st Period
15:31
BOS
Marco Sturm (18) Backhand shot - ASST: Patrice Bergeron (24)
1 - 0 BOS
17:10
ATL
PPG - Scott Mellanby (6) Tip-in - ASST: Jaroslav Modry (22), Marian Hossa (35)
1 - 1 Tie
18:35
ATL
Marc Savard (21) Backhand shot - ASST: Ilya Kovalchuk (33)
2 - 1 ATL
2nd Period
11:28
BOS
PPG - Brad Stuart (7) Snap shot - ASST: Brad Boyes (19), Patrice Bergeron (25)
2 - 2 Tie
3rd Period
12:58
BOS
P.J. Axelsson (9) Tip-in - ASST: Wayne Primeau (6), Brad Isbister (12)
3 - 2 BOS
penalty summary
1st Period
06:18
ATL
Serge Aubin  Delaying Game-Puck over glass
07:50
BOS
Brad Isbister  Too many men/ice - bench
16:34
BOS
Hal Gill  Tripping against  Niclas Havelid
2nd Period
00:26
ATL
Andy Sutton  Holding against  Marco Sturm
03:31
BOS
Marco Sturm  Hooking against  Greg De Vries
06:40
BOS
Patrick Leahy  Hooking
10:13
ATL
Jean-Pierre Vigier  Hooking against  Brad Boyes
14:16
BOS
Andrew Alberts  Hooking against  Marc Savard
15:43
ATL
Jaroslav Modry  Holding against  Nick Boynton
3rd Period
00:39
ATL
Peter Bondra  Hooking against  P.J. Axelsson
01:57
ATL
Marian Hossa  Tripping against  Patrice Bergeron
04:26
ATL
Andy Sutton  Roughing
09:05
ATL
Andy Sutton  Roughing against  Brad Boyes
10:04
ATL
Patrik Stefan  Hooking against  Patrice Bergeron
goalie stats
Tim Thomas
SA: 24TOI: 59:56
Saves: 22EV: 12 - 13
PIM: 0PP: 8 - 9
SV%: .917SH: 2 - 2
Kari Lehtonen
SA: 32TOI: 58:18
Saves: 29EV: 12 - 14
PIM: 0PP: 16 - 17
SV%: .906SH: 1 - 1