Boston, MA- With Thursday night's loss to Pittsburgh officially eliminating the Boston Bruins from playoff contention, a new role has been established for the Black and Gold; spoiler. The Bruins had the opportunity to prevent the Atlanta Thrashers from clinching a playoff spot as the two teams met Saturday afternoon at the TD Banknorth Garden. Unfortunately for the home team, Atlanta found the back of the net with 19 seconds remaining in regulation to clinch a playoff spot with a 3-2 win.
It didn't take long before the Bruins found themselves battling from behind. Just 24 seconds in, Garnet Exelby sent a harmless wrist shot towards the net from the left point. The puck deflected off of Ilya Kovalchuk and past Joey MacDonald, giving Atlanta the early lead.
The score remained 1-0 until just before the halfway mark of the second period when Atlanta doubled their lead. Pascal Dupuis and Greg de Vries came into the Boston zone on a 2-on-1 break. Dupuis held the puck and put the breaks on, forcing the Bruins' defenseman out of the play. He then calmly slid the pass over to de Vries, who one-timed it through MacDonald's legs.
Boston wasn't going to roll over and play dead on this day. Late in the period, the Bruins got on the board with a power play goal. Patrice Bergeron set up Zdeno Chara for a one timer from the center point. The puck deflected off of Marco Sturm, and rocketed over Kari Lehtonen's glove, cutting the Atlanta lead in half at 2-1.
As the game was getting late, the Bruins were trying to put on extra pressure to tie the game. Marc Savard forced a Garnet Exelby turnover behind the Atlanta goal. He then took the loose puck around to the front of the net and found rookie Petr Kalus. Kalus faked to the backhand and deposited the shot past Lehtonen glove side, evening the score at 2-2.
The Thrashers made the final statement in this game. Marian Hossa took a shot from the left circle that MacDonald steered away. The rebound bounced around on the right side of the crease before Keith Tkachuk smacked it over the line, giving the Thrashers the 3-2 win with just 19 seconds remaining in regulation.
Kari Lehtonen earned the win for the Thrashers, stopping 25 of the 27 shots he faced. Boston got another solid performance out of Joey MacDonald. The Bruins' netminder earned the game's second star as he stopped 37 of the 40 shots he faced. He got saddled with the tough luck loss.
The Bruins hit the road on Sunday for a tilt with the New Jersey Devils. The Devils will have a lot on the line, as they currently trail the Pittsburgh Penguins by one point (101-100) for the Atlantic Division lead.
1. ATL Kovalchuk (39) (Exelby, Tkachuk) 0:24
2. ATL de Vries (3) (Dupuis) 9:08
2. BOS Sturm (26) (Chara, Bergeron (PP) 18:30
3. BOS Kalus (2) (Savard) 15:03
3. ATL Tkachuk (27) (Hossa, Zhitnik) 19:41
1. BOS Alberts- Tripping 5:27
1. BOS Ference- High Sticking 9:27
1. BOS Savard- Hooking 12:17
1. BOS Alberts- Holding 16:45
2. ATL Boulton- Fighting 1:00
2. BOS Reich- Fighting 1:00
2. ATL Slater- Fighting 9:29
2. BOS Hoggan- Fighting 9:29
2. ATL Holik- Hooking 13:36
2. BOS Chara- Holding 15:15
2. ATL Zhitnik- Interference 16:53
3. BOS Donovan- Hooking 5:52
3. ATL Exelby- Holding 8:36
3. BOS Wideman- Delay of Game 17:37
ATL Kari Lehtonen (33-23-9): 27 shots, 25 saves
BOS Joey MacDonald (3-7-2): 40 shots, 37 saves
Shots on Goal:
Three Stars of the Game:
1- ATL Keith Tkachuk
2- BOS Joey MacDonald
3- ATL Ilya Kovalchuk