Saturday, March 5, 2011

I Love it When I'm Right (Game Wrap from Yesterday)

March 5, 2011

Brief game summary today since there is another game this afternoon! How about my bold prediction yesterday? From my pregame blog:
"4-3 Atlanta is my "Bold" Prediction."

ATLANTA, GA -  The Florida Panthers fell to the Atlanta Thrashers 4-3 in overtime last night at Phillips Arena. With the overtime loss, Florida earns a point, falling to 26-31-8 while Atlanta continues to hold onto their playoffs with dear life after snagging two points, improving to 27-28-11 and keeping pace six games back of 8th seeded Carolina.

New Panthers Sergei Samsonov and Niclas Bergfors each got their first points as Panthers, with Samsonov scoring the Panthers first goal. Bergfors had a wraparound attempt stopped by Chris Mason, but Samsonov flew into the crease and stuffed the puck home to put the Panthers on top 1-0. For Samsonov it was his 11th goal of the season. The goal came at 5:46 in the first and Stephen Weiss was credited with the second helper.

Just two seconds later, Darcy Hordichuck and Eric Boulton dropped the gloves. They had some extra time to chat as the goal was being reviewed and decided to get the heavyweight match on right as the puck dropped. Hordichuck, the former Thrashers tough guy, had his right hand free the entire round, and while he went down to the ice first, he clearly won the fight.

Neither team could carry that momentum, however, and all was quiet until 43 seconds into the second when recently acquired Blake Wheeler poked home a rebound off of Tomas Vokoun from the right side of the goal mouth. His 13th goal of the season tied the game at 1. Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd assisted on the goal.

A 1-1 tie set up an exciting 3rd period. Ladd tucked the puck home just 1:11 into the period and with just two seconds left on the powerplay to give the Thrashers a lead. Tobias Enstrom and Brian Little were credited with assists on the play to give Atlanta an early lead.

And they were not done. Wheeler scored his second goal, and 14th of the year, at the 6:30 mark. Byfuglien rushed up the ice and his hard shot was stopped by Vokoun. Everyone thought he had it between his legs and a whistle had blown...except Wheeler and the referee. Wheeler capitalized and pushed the loose puck into an empty net to put Atlanta on top 3-0

In typical Panthers fashion, though, comeback time was imminent. Right off the draw at 7:58 and on a power play, no less, Stephen Weiss skated to his comfortable center point position and fired it home. Samsonov and Mike Santorelli assisted on the goal, but the Panthers still had 1 more goal to get if they wanted a chance to win.

And they did just that. Exactly three minutes later, Dmitri Kulikov had a hard slapshot from just behind the right wing circle blocked.  No problem, the puck settled right on David Booth's stick and he had an open net to shoot at, scoring the Panthers third goal and setting things up for overtime. It was Booth's 18th goal and Jason Garrison helped out at the point.

Before anyone could even breathe in the overtime, Ladd passed the puck the Byfuglien in the nutural zone, and he got around has man to the right wing side, passed the puck through the crease where Ladd just tipped the puck in to end the game 25 seconds in at 4-3. Brian Little also got an assist on the game's final goal.

CAT BITES: Pete DeBoer remains 1 win away from 100. 15,799 showed up in Downtown Atlanta on a Saturday night for hockey. 

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