-- After watching him Thursday night against the Philadelphia Flyers
, fans might forget that Atlanta Thrashers
rookie left wing Evander Kane is still just 18 years old, and the youngest player currently in the League.
He certainly didn't look like it here, twice racing past five-time all-star defenseman Chris Pronger
to set up a pair of goals, including the game-winner, to lead the Thrashers to a 4-3 victory against the Flyers.
Jim Slater was the recipient of Kane's outstanding play, scoring twice, including the game-winner, capping a three-goal third-period rally for the Thrashers.
The win, just Atlanta's second on the road in its last 12 games, allowed the Thrashers to jump from 11th to sixth in the jammed-up Eastern Conference. The Flyers slipped to seventh.
Ilya Kovalchuk and Rich Peverley also scored for Atlanta, which won for just the fourth time in 29 games when trailing after two periods (4-20-5).
The win was Atlanta's first in Philadelphia since Nov. 18, 2005, snapping a seven-game losing streak. The Thrashers are just 3-13-3 all-time in Philadelphia.
had a goal and an assist for Philadelphia, and Arron Asham and Daniel Carcillo also scored.
Slater had a wide-open net to score into with 6:32 left in the third period to break a 3-3 tie. Kane raced down the left side with the puck and went around Pronger. As Kane went behind the net, Philadelphia's Matt Carle
collided with goalie Ray Emery, leaving Slater alone in front.
"It was a good job by Kaner taking the puck wide again and driving the net," Slater said. "I just went hard to the net, their guy bumped into the goalie and pushed him out of the way. I was standing alone there, Kaner made a great pass and I had a wide open net to look at."
The goal nearly was identical to the one that opened the scoring. Kane again raced past Pronger down the left side, circled the net and tried for a wraparound. Emery made the save, but Slater banged in the loose puck with 48.5 seconds left in the first period.
"He's been around the League for so many years," Kane said. "I watched him quite a bit. He's a premier player, that's why he's been in the League so long. … I don't know what his mindset was. I like to use my speed to my advantage and I was able to do that on those two plays."
"He's got a lot of speed coming down the wing," Pronger said. "We've obviously got to do a better job at not allowing him to skate from the far end all the way down. Having said that, he made a couple good plays there and obviously his guys were Johnny on the spot, right in the slot and on top of the crease."
The Flyers had been 22-0-2 when leading after two periods, but their 3-1 advantage disappeared in the first five minutes of the third period.
Kovalchuk out-stretched Carle for a loose puck off a faceoff to score his 31st of the season just 39 seconds in, and then Pavel Kubina fired a puck from deep in his zone to Peverley at the Philadelphia blue line. He skated in alone on Emery to score his 17th of the season and tie the game at 4:26.
"We got beat out of the hole in three different spots and they got the jump and got inside us," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said of the faceoff play. "Our desperation level needs to be high for 60 minutes. It was sporadic tonight."
After the Thrashers took a 1-0 lead on Slater's goal, Giroux displayed a bit of puck wizardry to tie the game. He intercepted a Tobias Enstrom pass just inside the Atlanta blue line, carried the puck down to the left faceoff circle, stepped around Kubina, deked around goalie Johan Hedberg, and with his body almost completely behind the goal, somehow reached back and tucked the puck into the net at 6:52 of the second.
The goal was Giroux's 11th of the season and snapped a six-game goal drought.
Asham put the Flyers ahead with his sixth of the season. Giroux led a breakout into the Atlanta end, and sent a beautiful saucer pass across to Asham, who scored under the crossbar at 10:13.
Carcillo celebrated his 25th birthday by making it 3-1. He raced to the Atlanta net to tip in an Ian Laperriere
pass from the left wall at 13:17 for his seventh goal of the season. Carcillo became the fourth Flyers player this season to score on his birthday, joining Danny Briere
, Pronger and Giroux.
The Flyers had a chance to tie with just under four minutes left when a loose puck squirted into the Atlanta zone. Hedberg beat Philadelphia's Simon Gagne to the puck, but as Gagne leapt over the goalie, his mask came off and his jersey came over his head. Hedberg got up, but began wandering blindly around the ice until officials realized his mask had come off and stopped play. (WATCH HERE
"It was pretty entertaining," Thrashers coach John Anderson said. "Brought the crowd to its feet, for sure."
The Thrashers did the rest of the celebrating as they moved into contention for just the second playoff berth in the team's history.
"We want to be in position before the Olympic break where we have a playoff position and this is a stepping stone to that," Slater said.
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org.