On the eve of the NHL trade deadline, the Boston Bruins fell to the Atlanta Thrashers, 3-2, in front of 16,417 at the TD Banknorth Garden on Monday night. Atlanta's Marian Hossa scored the game-winning goal midway through the third period to give the Thrashers the victory and the all-important two points in the Eastern Conference standings.
"We're all battling for the last couple of (playoff) spots," said a disappointed Brad Boyes. "It just puts us that (much farther) behind."
The Bruins had seemingly gotten their home stand off to a good start by taking an early 2-1 lead over the visiting Thrashers. B's speedster Shean Donovan scored his sixth goal of the season, with help from Jason York and Mark Mowers, at just 1:29 of the first period.
"We wanted to get right back at it," said Tim Thomas
, who finished with 17 saves on the night. "We did a lot of good things…it was a war of attrition."
As such, Boston held their lead for much of the stanza, but when Atlanta forward Scott Mellanby scored his 11th of the season on the power play at 14:35, it knotted the score at 1-1.
"Each game is critical," said Boston defenseman Paul Mara. "It was a four point game tonight and we let it slip away."
However, to the initial delight of the Black & Gold clad crowd, Boston's Brad Boyes scored late in the first period when he deflected a shot from Patrice Bergeron
and bounced the biscuit past Atlanta goalie Kari Lehtonen and into the Thrashers goal.
The goal sent the Bruins to the locker room with a 2-1 lead after 20-minutes and it looked to the partisan home fans that their B's recent success on the road had followed them home.
However, the only score of the second went to Atlanta.
The Thrashers tied the game at 2:09, again on the power play, when veteran Greg de Vries fed Eric Belanger for his 11th goal.
Boston was penalized three times in the second, as Marc Savard
was whistled for hooking at the 49-second mark. Then, the Boston bench was called for too many men on the ice at 15:07 (served by Phil Kessel). Savard took another penalty late in the period when an unlucky clearing attempt meant for the Atlanta end cleared the glass instead. The result was a delay of game penalty to the Bruins sniper at 19:57, the majority of which would be served in the third.
"We…took some careless penalties," said Boston head coach Dave Lewis. "That doesn't help the cause."
That power play didn't hurt Boston, but Marian Hossa's even strength goal at 7:28 did, as the Thrashers played with the lead for much of the third period and Lehtonen shut the door.
"I think we had our chances," said Donovan. "They capitalized (on theirs) and they scored some big goals."
"You obviously don't want to dwell on it," said defenseman Andrew Ference
. "You can carry (the positives) into tomorrow."
Boston plays Philadelphia on Thursday at home.