The Boston Bruins fell to the Atlanta Thrashers, 3-2, Saturday afternoon at the TD Banknorth Garden. Atlanta's Keith Tkachuk, a native of Melrose, Massachusetts, scored the game winner with 18.6 remaining in regulation.
"He was in front all game causing trouble for me," said Bruins goalie Joey MacDonald, who finished with 37 saves. "That's his job."
MacDonald , who was strong for the Bruins in the loss, started the game in goal for Boston, spelled regular starter Tim Thomas
, and hoped to add another win to the B's docket. But just 24-seconds into the game, Ilya Kovalchuk scored his 39th of the season after his shot deflected off a Bruins defender.
MacDonald was solid the rest of the way, however and made 15 saves in just the first period of play. His opposite number in the Atlanta goal, Kari Lehtonen, stopped all seven Bruins shots he saw in the initial stanza to keep the B's off the board and set the tone for his performance for the remaining 40-minutes (he finished with 25 saves).
The majority of the second period followed the example of the first, with Atlanta controlling the play, and the Bruins battling back as best they could with some exciting moments and some exciting saves. As such, Atlanta's Greg deVries scored just his third goal of the year at 9:08 to extend the Thrashers lead to 2-0.
That goal turned a switch on for Boston and Marco Sturm put the Bruins on the board as he scored his 26th of the year at 18:30 and sent the teams to the locker room with ATL up 2-1 after 40-minutes.
"I thought halfway through the second period we started to put some pressure on them," said MacDonald. "We got some pucks to the net and forced their goalie to make a few tougher saves."
The Thrashers let the B's back into the game late in the final period when Boston's Petr Kalus scored the second goal of his NHL career at 15:03 to tie the game, 2-2, in the third.
"I feel so much more comfortable," said the B's rookie of his recent play and second goal. "I'm just working for my ice time here."
Kalus was the hero for a few moments, but a former Boston University Terrier, who spends his summers on Cape Cod, sent the many Bruins fans in attendance home heartbroken with his late goal.
"Tkachuk was there to tap it in," said MacDonald. " That's why they picked him up, to bang in goals like that."
After the game, Sturm said that the Bruins have to keep their spirits up in the home stretch.
"We know it's pretty tough right now," said the veteran forward. "We know we are not making the playoffs, but we have to show some pride here.
"We are representatives of the Bruins and we don't want to just let (the season) go...We want to work hard and win some games.
"It was a tough one today, but we have four (games) left," said Sturm.
Boston traveled to New Jersey after the game where they will face the Devils in an afternoon match up on Sunday.