A four-point performance by Dustin Byfuglien (goal, 3 assists) gave the Atlanta Thrashers their fifth straight win in a 4-1 victory over the Bruins on Sunday afternoon. The Thrashers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period and never looked back in head coach Craig Ramsay's first game behind the bench against his former employer.
Evander Kane gave the Thrashers a 1-0 lead at 8:32 of the first period. Dustin Byfuglien skated the puck in on the right wing, carried the puck around the net to the left wing corner and fired a diagonal pass to the right wing. The pass was off the mark, but Anothy Stewart gathered the puck after it caromed off the boards. Stewart sent a shot towards the net that was deflected at the left post by Evander Kane for the sophomore's 9th goal of the season.
Dustin Byfuglien made it 2-0 at 12:22 of the first period. Byfuglien picked up the pick at along the left wing boards at the blue line and skated the puck wide into the attacking zone. Byfuglien sold the pass before firing a quick wrister that beat Tuukka Rask for the big defenseman's 9th goal of the season. Bufuglien appeared to enter the zone ahead of the puck, but the play was never whistled for offsides and the goal stood.
The Thrashers struck again just 2:20 after Byflugien's goal. Brad Marchand tried to weave his way through the Atlanta defense and had the puck stripped by (guess who?) Dustin Byfuglien. Byfuglien chipped the puck along the right wing boards to Jim Slater. Slater carried the puck in on the right wing, cut in front of the crease and roofed a wrister past Tuukka Rask on the stick side.
The frustration started to show for the Bruins early in the second period when Matt Hunwick dropped the gloves (not a typo) with Evander Kane at 5:01 of the middle period. The undersized defenseman hung tough with the kid named after Evander Holyfield, but the card went to Kane.
If Hunwick-Kane was the undercard, Shawn Thornton and Eric Boulton was the main event. The two brawlers squared off at 10:31 of the second period in a long bout that saw several landed shot by both combatants. Thornton landed more scoring blows, but stumbled at the end. Thornton quickly regained his footing, but the linesmens had seen enough and stepped in.
The fights seemed to lit a fire under the B's, as they picked up the intensity immediately following Thornton's scrap with Boulton. Blake Wheeler finally got the Bruins on the board at 12:22 of the middle period. Michael Ryder tracked down a puck at the offensive blue line and feed a perfectly timed cross-ice pass to Blake Wheeler who was entering the zone. Wheeler let go of a quick wrist shot from the left circle that beat Ondrej Pavelec through the 5-hole. The goal was the first goal scored against Pavelec in 139:59 (H/T to Ben Wright of the Atlanta Thrashers' media relations team for that nugget of info.)
With Daniel Paille in the box for a hit from behind on Alexander Burmistrov, Niclas Bergfors made it 4-1 Thrashers with 13 ticks left on the clock in the second period. A misfired slap shot by Dustin Byfuglien went wide left of the net and deflected off the stick of Bergfors for the 4-1 lead.
The Bruins controlled the play in the third period and put 14 shots on goals, but could not find the back of the net and cut the lead.
- With David Krejci and Jordan Caron fighting the flu in the Boston, the B's called up Jamie Arniel. Arniel made his NHL debut today. Arniel saw 12:26 of ice time in his debut, registered 3 shots on goal, and finished at minus-1. Arniel was putting himself in the right spost on the ice and had a few good opportunities to score.
- Ben Kingsley would definitely play Craig Ramsay in a movie.
- The Bruins power play looked awful again today. The B's were 0 for 4 on the power play tonight. They couldn't move the puck, they couldn't find the seams, and they didn't have very many legitimate scoring opportunities. The Bruins are 1 for their last 14 on the power play.
- The Bruins out-shot the Thrashers 41-26. Registering more shots on goals has not been an indicator of success for the B's this season. The B's are 4-4-1 when out-shooting their opponents this season and 8-4-1 when they are out-shot.
- Dennis Seidenberg registered 6 shots on net and blocked 4 shots, but finished the game at minus-3.
- Ondrej Pavelec had 40 saves tonight. The Czech puckstopper has only given up 3 goals in his last 5 games.
- In a complete reverse of last season, the Bruins continue their trend of playing better in front of Tim Thomas.
- The Bruins are off until Wednesday when the travel to Philadelphia to face the Flyers for the first time since their playoff collapse.