Boston, MA -
Jim Slater scored in the seventh round of the shootout to lift the Atlanta Thrashers to a 5-4 victory over the Boston Bruins Tuesday night at the TD Banknorth Garden. The Thrashers came back from a two-goal deficit three times and scored three goals in the final period to force the extra session. Patrice Bergeron
chipped in a goal and two assists and registered his 100th career NHL point on Boston's third goal. Tim Thomas
gave his team a chance to win with 36 saves on 40 shots.
"It's tough to come up with some big saves and then lose, because when you make them, you really want to win," said Thomas. "You think it must be your night for sure, and then when you lose, it's hard. I picked up the puck all night except for those four shots, but it's hard because I made a few good saves, along with some ‘puck luck.' I really thought it was my night after a couple of those."
The Thrashers overcame leads of 2-0, 3-1, and 4-2, including a third period in which they outshot the Bruins 17-4 to tie the game and force overtime.
Down 3-1 to start the third, Marc Savard
scored first for the Thrashers on the power play at 2:47. Savard fired a slap shot from the point that trickled through Thomas' pads for the score.
Mariusz Czerkawski answered for the Bruins and scored his first goal as a Bruin this season midway through the period with a hard wrist shot to extend the lead back to two goals.
Atlanta came back with another though at 12:45 on Bobby Holik's goal. Holik one-timed a pass from Brad Larsen that beat Thomas far side to cut Boston's margin back to one.
With just 1:08 left in regulation, the Thrashers pulled even with the Bruins when Steve McCarthy backhanded a shot from the point that eluded Thomas over his right shoulder to send the game into overtime.
Thomas kept the Bruins in the game and made 14 saves in the final period. Unfortunately for the Bruins, they had to play eight minutes of the final period shorthanded.
"Timmy (Thomas) played real well and he kept us in the game," said Glen Murray. "Those four penalties in the third hurt us a lot and gave them some momentum."
Coach Sullivan echoed Murray's thoughts, but with a little more emotion.
"It's discouraging, there's no question," he said. "We felt like we were in complete control of that game, and we were. We go from Patrice Bergeron
on a potential wrap-around and a scoring chance, to being down and trying to kill two minutes of a penalty on a high-stick on the same play. It started from there and we spent eight of the last 20 minutes trying to kill penalties. It's tough to win when you are expending energy to kill penalties. It's tough to maintain control of the hockey game.
"There are some things you can control and there are some things that you can't," Sullivan added in reference to the penalties. He would not comment on the officiating.
After a scoreless overtime, the Thrashers won in the seventh round of the shootout when Atlanta's Jim Slater beat Thomas five-hole with the eventual game winner. The goal forced B's defenseman Brad Stuart to answer with a goal of his own to extend the shootout, however, Kari Lehtonen turned away his bid to seal the Thrashers win. Both teams traded goals in the first three rounds as Vyacheslav Kozlov scored for Atlanta and Glen Murray for Boston.
"It was entertaining for the fans," added Thomas. "That five-hole got me twice. When they scrape that ice, I'm flying all over the ice. Even on the saves, I'm flying back into the net. It's almost like you need a different set of pads for the shootout than you do for the game. No excuse, but maybe it depends on your style."
The Bruins started the game strong as they looked to avenge the previous night's loss. Just 2:14 into the first period, the Bruins picked up a 1-0 lead on Bergeron's 23rd of the season. Lehtonen saved a Brad Boyes shot from the slot, but couldn't control the rebound and Bergeron was able to knock it home during a scrum in front of the net.
The Bruins dominated the rest of the first period and, on the power play, the Bruins top line hooked up again for a 2-0 lead. This time, Boyes slid a saucer pass across the front of the net to Marco Sturm for No. 26 of the season.
The Thrashers came out strong in the second period and turned the tables on the Bruins. If not for the outstanding play of Thomas, the Bruins could have easily found themselves down at the end of the period.
Thomas was flawless until the 16:47 mark when Brad Larson sniped a shot just under the crossbar to cut Boston's lead to 2-1.
The B's came right back and scored one minute later when Stuart connected with Murray for a one-timer on Murray's 21st of the year to put the Bruins back up by two goals. Bergeron grabbed an assist, his 100th career NHL point.