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.