| Statistics TORONTO (CP)
- The Atlanta Thrashers won this one for the Snyders.
Marc Savard's second goal of the game with 14.7 seconds left in overtime capped a rally from a 2-0 third-period deficit and gave the Thrashers a stunning 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night.
"We played this game for Dan Snyder and his family,'' said 20-year-old Thrashers star Ilya Kovalchuk, a towel around his neck as sweat dripped off his brow after assisting on the winning goal. "It was a difficult game for us but I think he's happy right now.''
Savard and Jeff Cowan scored 22 seconds apart with eight minutes remaining in the third period to force overtime in a game played closest they'll venture this season to their late teammate's home town of Elmira, and with Snyder's parents in the crowd less than three weeks after his funeral.
Snyder died six days after injuries suffered in a Sept. 29 car crash, and Graham and LuAnn Snyder and other family members drove in to watch the game and meet with the Atlanta players afterwards.
|Gary Roberts scored the Leafs first goal of the night. |
(Graig Abel Photography)
Gary Roberts scored in the first period and Tom Fitzgerald in the third for the Leafs and, given the way Ed Belfour was tending goal, the 19,100 witnesses figured the two-goal lead would stand up.
But the Thrashers, rallying from a two-goal deficit for the fourth consecutive game, have no quit in them.
Savard ended it with a wrist shot from the circle to the right of Belfour, who missed the high shot with his catching mitt as he dropped to his knees. It was Savard's fifth goal of the season.
"I was hanging out there all night, going to that spot,'' Savard said of his positioning.
A message in remembrance of Snyder was displayed on the video screens above centre ice during a stoppage in play a few seconds after Roberts scored in the seventh minute.
"To the Snyder family and the Atlanta Thrashers,'' the message read. "Over the past few weeks the Toronto Maple Leafs and the people of Toronto have been thinking about you.''
The crowd applauded while seated, rose, and continued applauding. Players on both benches stood, and those on the ice repeatedly tapped their stick blades on the ice during the one-minute break.
Fitzgerald had set up Roberts at the front of the crease with a pass from the depths of the corner to the left of goalie Pasi Nurminen.
Fitzgerald scored at 9:40 of the third period. He got behind Andy Sutton for a breakaway and neatly slipped the puck between Nurminen's legs.
Nurminen matched Belfour save for save and kept the Thrashers in position to rally.
"Pasi's been there all year and we know he's going to be there,'' said Savard.
Then, bang-bang, it was tied.
Savard lifted in a wrist shot just under the crossbar at 11:57 and Cowan backhanded in his own rebound at 12:19.
"We played well in the first and second periods but Belfour came up with some big saves,'' said Hartley. "But this team, since Day 1 of training camp, nothing bothers us.
"We don't get rattled. We just keep working.''
A roughing penalty to Belfour following a pile-up at his crease gave Atlanta a power play with one minute left in regulation. The Leafs held on into overtime.
Sutton was sent off for elbowing 1:40 into sudden death, and now the Leafs set up on the power play. They couldn't score on Nurminen. But Savard did after the teams returned to even strength.
"It was a great effort by 20 guys out there,'' Hartley said. "These guys keep amazing me.
"I'm coaching a great bunch of guys who are willing to work every day. The results are there to prove it.''
Savard is playing the best hockey of his career.
"Since last spring, Savard has really picked it up,'' said Hartley. "He's very happy with us.
"He's getting lots of ice time and lots of responsibilities and he's certainly responding very well. He's a very important player for us.''
The Leafs got a point but were dejected at having blown a lead.
"When you're up 2-0 like that you definitely want to play good defence for the rest of the game and do what it takes not to give up a goal,'' said a miffed Belfour.
Fitzgerald had his best game of the season but all he could talk about was "two points out the door.''
"There's no excuses,'' he said. "That's a game we just threw away.
"But we want to be a positive group in here,'' he added. "We want to learn from games like this and down the line look back and say, you know, that Atlanta game was a game that put us over the hump because we realized it's a 60-minute game and we can't take chances when we're up like that.
"We want to be able to look back and not say that's a game that hurt us but a game that helped us down the road.'' Notes
: The Leafs, 4-2-2-1, had won three in a row. Atlanta, 5-1-2-1, moved back atop the Southeast Division ... On power plays, Toronto was 0-for-6 and Atlanta 0-for-7 ... Shots were 27-27 ... Centred out on the in-rink Kiss Cam on the video screens above centre ice, TV play-by-play man Joe Bowen tenderly blew a kiss to his analyst, Harry Neale, who turned and raised his rear end at Bowen ... No. 1 Atlanta goalie Pasi Nurminen is paid $1.1 million US while Byron Dafoe, relegated to No. 2, gets $3.5 million.