By John Bishop, BostonBruins.comGame 3, Atlanta --
The Boston Bruins ran into the hottest goalie in the league Wednesday night in Atlanta and fell to the Thrashers 4-1 thanks to more outstanding play from Finnish sensation Kari Lehtonen before 12,579 at Phillips Arena.
Hannu Toivonen, Boston's own formidable Finn, was almost out of the game several hours before it even started, as he took a puck in the throat during the pre-game skate earlier that morning. Thankfully, Toivonen seemed none-the-worse-for-wear as the Bruins took the ice versus the high-flying Thrashers in the first period.
Atlanta's Lehtonen and Boston's Toivonen, who wore a brand new throat guard, stopped all the shots they saw before the first intermission, sometimes in spectacular fashion and put on an all-Finn goaltending clinic.
In fact, Lehtonen stretched his shutout streak past the 160 minute mark with his play in the first stanza.
The second period was a raucous, high scoring affair for the Thrashers, that saw Atlanta score three times to the Bruins lone maker.
Jon Sim took a feed from Ilya Kovalchuk and Steve Rucchin to beat Toivonen at 2:53. Boston bounced back quickly and Brad Boyes took a pass from Zdeno Chara
and shot the puck towards the net which deflected off of P.J. Axelsson's stomach, beating Lehtonen and stopping his prolonged shutout streak.
Although Boston continued to test Lehtonen, it was to be Boston's lone scoring highlight of the evening.
Atlanta broke out, however, adding a power play goal by Scott Mellanby (from Marian Hossa, Slava Kozlov) at 14:27 and an even strength goal from Glen Metropolit (again from Kozlov and Vitaly Vishnevski).
Hossa iced the game early in the third period, as he beat Toivonen for Atlanta's fourth goal, his fourth of the year from Garnet Exelby and Niclas Havelid.
"We had some good chances," said Bruins Head Coach Dave Lewis after the game. "We could have taken control of the game a lot better than we did. We didn't get the puck behind the goaltender and subsequently they got some chances, they took the lead and took control of the game."
"As soon as the score was 1-1, I think we were on our heels," said P.J. Axelsson. "They took over the game. I think we tried to do too much and we lost a lot of pucks in the neutral zone and they counterattacked us.
"We're making it too hard on ourselves. Instead of making the easy play we're trying to make the homerun play. And that's not always the good play."
The Bruins next play on Thursday night in St. Louis, an 8:00 start on NESN.