Despite Late Rally Flyers Fall Short In Atlanta
Tonight they did not get quite the start they were looking for as it was the Thrasher who would strike first just under seven minutes into the game when Tim Stapleton snapped a wrist shot past Brian Boucher.
This would be a goal that Boucher would like to have back, he did not challenge he stayed with the post and went to his famous one knee genuflect and the puck beat him under his right pad to give the Thrashers the 1-0 lead.
The Thrashers lead would not last long, just 2:21 after the Thrashers opened up the scoring the Flyers would tie the game at one on a nice goal from Claude Giroux.
Giroux was the last man back and was beaten as he was skating backwards on the Thrashers first goal so this was kind of a redemption for him. The period would end in a 1-1 tie with the Thrashers leading in shots on goal 8-5 and had the only power play of the period.
The second period got off to a rough start as Dan Carcillo, looking for a spark, and Marc Stuart would drop the gloves and square off. Carcillo who was at a slight height and weight disadvantage held his own as he did not give Stuart an good opportunity to land a good shot.
The spark from the fight seem to be sent the Thrashers way as they would take the 2-1 lead on a goal by Bryan Little just two and a half minutes after the scrap. This goal was not any fault of Boucher's as he made the initial save and with three Flyers back they failed to beat Little to the puck,he was the lone Thrasher in the area.
The game stayed this way until the 14:30 mark when Danny Briere received a pass at the side of the net from Jeff Carter, who won the puck battle in the near corner. Briere would take the puck from the side of the net and stuff it under the moving Thrasher goaltender to tie the game at two.
The Thrashers once again would strike not long after the Flyers tied it up when Nik Antropov received a pass at the top of the circle and wristed a lazy shot on goal that beat Boucher giving the Thrahers the late period 3-2 lead.
Once again this would be a goal that Boucher would like to have back. It seemed he was dropping to his knees before the shot tonight and on this particular goal he went down on the pass out to Antropov. The Flyers would get a late power play with two seconds to go in the period when Dustin Byfuglien picked up a two minute minor for holding. The period would end with the Thrashers leading 3-2 and once again would lead the period with shots on goal.
The Flyers would enter the third period with a chance to get back the late second period goal they surrendered, as they were starting the final period on a 1:58 power play. The Flyers would not capitalize on that opportunity but would manage to get seven shots on the Thrashers net before the Atlanta would get a shot of their own.
The third period ended up being the best period of the night for the Flyers eve though they committed the only two penalties of the period. Both penalties were successfully killed off. Just as Atlanta did the last time these two teams met the Flyers would pull their goalie with a minute eighteen left in the game and force the game into overtime on a goal by Danny Briere.
It was Briere's second goal of the night and third point.Just moments before that goal, Scott Hartnell would blow a great opportunity when Ville Leino sent him a pass as he was falling down. The pass was right on Hartnell's tape, and with a yawning net staring at him Hartnell shot the puck wide missing the net and a chance to tie the game at three.
The game would head into overtime, a familiar place for the Atlanta Thrashers lately. The Flyers and Thrashers would trade scoring chances and the overtime would end in a tie with Atlanta leading the overtime in shots 2-1.
The Flyers would not score a goal in the shootout, Atlanta was two for three against a shakey Brian Boucher.
It is tough to imagine this team coming out of this funk in time for the playoffs with the way they are playing lately. It may just be too late for this team to find their game especially with Pronger out possibly until the last week of the season.
Tonight they did not play a good game and did not get much help from their goaltending. These two areas need to get better if the Flyers have any shot of returning to the Cup Finals. When the Flyers had O'Donnell and Meszaros at the top of the +/- race at the stat of the year the goaltending was not a question.
Now the Flyers do not have any defensemen in the top of +/- nor does this team have a shutout and the goalies are getting exposed. The problem here is that these goalies don't have the ability to steal a game. If they were capable of doing so they would have had earned at least one shut out this year.
Fans are trying to down play that fact, but look at most of the teams in the league and ask yourself how many other teams goalies would you prefer over the Flyers current ones, or they would be better off with the Flyers defense in front of them. You may be surprised.