Three third period goals allowed the Thrashers to jump back in the driver’s seat and put the Flyers away to steal the win, 4-3.
BY JAY BOEHMER, Staff Writer
This Thursday night contest started off slow, with neither team able to take control and get any quality chances. The Flyers began to put on the pressure, but were unable to score. Unfortunately, the speed of Atlanta rookie Evander Kane was too much for defenseman Chris Pronger as he beat him around the net to find teammate Jim Slater out front to take the 1-0 lead with 48 seconds left in the first period.
The Flyers had several odd man rushes early in the second that were barely thwarted by a strong Atlanta backcheck. They eventually cashed in as Claude Giroux dangled his way past several defenders as well as goalie Johan Hedburg all before tucking the puck in behind him to tie the game at 1.
Later that period Giroux was able to feed Arron Asham during a 2-on-1 for a quick shot past Hedburg to take the lead 2-1. Three minutes later, Ian Lapperriere was able to chip the puck out front to a streaking Dan Carcillo who poked the puck past Hedburg with one hand to increase the Flyers’ lead to two.
Not even thirty seconds into the third, the Flyers defense collapsed as Ilya Kovalchuk put his first shot of the game past a sprawling Ray Emery to tighten the gap. At the 15:34 mark, Pavel Kubina was able to hit teammate Rich Peverley with a long pass to send him on a breakaway and beat Emery to tie the game at 3. With 6:32 remaining, Evander Kane created an identical scoring chance as he fed Slater for the second time to take the lead 4-3. The Flyers pressured, getting plenty of late game chances, but a Danny Briere interference penalty gave Atlanta the buffer they needed to secure the win.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Claude Giroux: Giroux put one in on a fancy highlight reel goal and followed it up with a perfect pass to set up Arron Asham’s goal as he did his part to keep the Flyers in the game.
Daniel Carcillo: The Flyers tough guy, celebrating his 25th birthday, avoided taking a penalty during a scuffle in front of the Atlanta bench and turned up ice to find the back of the net that same shift to put the Flyers up 3-1 at the end of the second.
Evander Kane: Atlanta’s talented rookie showed his speed as he managed to blow past veteran Chris Pronger twice last night to find teammate Jim Slater out front for two of the Thrasher’s four goals.
Jim Slater: Jim Slater was handed two of the easiest goals a forward could ask for thanks to Evander Kane sending pucks out front to Slater after drawing the Flyers out of position himself.
Johan Hedburg: Atlanta goalie made all of the saves he could to keep the Thrashers in the game despite a three goal Flyers’ explosion during the second period. Hedburg led his team to a win with 34 saves on 37 shots and a .919 save percentage.
Inconsistency: An aspect of the Flyers’ game that plagued them during their losing streak through December, the Flyers have been much better in this regard since coming under the command of coach Laviolette. However, a few lapses in energy during the third period allowed a quick-hitting Atlanta offense to step ahead for the win.
The Flyers found the majority of scoring chances throughout the game, but a few smart defensive plays and quick saves for the Thrashers kept the pucks out of the net when it counted the most. Atlanta turned this momentum around and cashed in on offense with a three goal third period to hand the Flyers their first regulation loss of the season when leading after two periods.
Entering this game at sixth place in the Eastern conference, the Flyers were separated from the thirteenth place New York Islanders by only one point. The eleventh place Thrashers were looking for a win to leap frog over the Flyers and several other teams into sixth place themselves. They got it, knocking the Flyers down to seventh in the conference.
Two consecutive losses have put the Flyers at 3-2 on their current home stand with one game left to play, against the New York Islanders, before going back on the road.