The Atlanta Thrashers lost a precious point in a painful way today, falling to the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in overtime thanks to a Jordan Leopold goal. The Thrashers had the lead three times in the game but relinquished it that many times, allowing the Penguins’ third goal with a little bit more than a minute left in the third period.
Sergei Gonchar and Evgeni Malkin both came back from their different maladies to help Pittsburgh win the game. Both Gonchar and Malkin had one goal and one assist while Sidney Crosby collected three helpers. Many Penguins fans probably still feel a rush of nostalgia whenever former goalie Johan “The Moose” Hedberg plays in Mellon Arena. The goalie had a solid game, making 31 saves in a losing effort. This marks the second heart breaking loss in a row for Atlanta as they lost a close one to the Capitals earlier this week.
The Thrashers are specializing in crushing its fans’ spirits this year. Obviously, you probably know that the team traded Ilya Kovalchuk this year, but they’ve made a spirited attempt at making the playoffs without their former franchise forward. They now trail the Boston Bruins by a point, but Boston can beef it up to 3 points with a win over the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight. Making up 3 points in 3 games isn’t impossible, but it certainly isn’t likely. (Then again, many have rightly pointed out that the Thrashers probably have a better chance of usurping the Philadelphia Flyers for a playoff spot instead of Boston).
The come-from-behind win temporarily places the Penguins ahead of the struggling New Jersey Devils for the Atlantic division title. The Devils can re-claim the top spot simply by beating the Carolina Hurricanes tonight because they hold just about every tiebreaker over the Penguins after beating them 6 out of 6 times this season.
There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.
The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.
That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.
In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.
Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.
The Calgary Flames have released Ryan Wilson from his professional tryout.
The 28-year-old was trying to make a comeback after missing 79 games with a shoulder injury last season.
Even with T.J. Brodie sidelined because of a broken hand, Wilson still faced long odds to make the final roster.
The veteran will be hard-pressed to find NHL work with another team.
He hasn’t suited up in more than 12 regular season games since 2011-12.
The Stockton Heat, Calgary’s AHL affiliate, also made some news on Sunday.
The club announced that they’ve signed Colton Orr to an AHL contract.
The 33-year-old tough guy suited up in just one game for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. He has 12 seasons of NHL experience under his belt.