Bryan Little took the draw and snapped a wrister at New York Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro. Somehow, it went in. Once again, the struggling hockey team from Long Island figured out yet another way to lose yet another hockey game. The Atlanta Thrashers will take the win, no matter how ugly it was.
Little posted the game-winning goal and Johnny Oduya put a pair into the net to lead the Thrashers to a 5-4 win over the lost Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum.
Alex Burmistrov and Anthony Stewart added tallies for the Thrashers, who overcame a two goal deficit to beat the worst team in the league for a second time this season.
“I tried to make it seem like I was going to win (the faceoff) back,” Little told the Associated Press. “I was trying to put it on net, to get a shot, and ended up getting a good bounce on it. I’ve tried it before, but you need to have a bit of luck to get it through. I kind of caught them off-guard, and their goalie really wasn’t paying attention.”
Attention to details is something that often separates the good from the bad in the National Hockey League. Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay has made a point to sit Ben Eager and Niclas Bergfors for not playing hard enough in Atlanta’s 4-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday.
Atlanta didn’t exactly get the message early on in the hockey game, allowing a pair of goals before finally fighting back before a crowd of 10,189 in Uniondale. Over 1,100 of those fans made the trek from Quebec City in a message to the league that they are ready for another hockey team.
But rather than root for the Thrashers – the team many in Canada feel that is the most likely to flock north – the Quebec contingent was squarely behind the home team. And just the folks from Quebec’s provincial capital lost the old Quebec Nordiques to Colorado, the struggling Islanders team that they were rooting for lost as well. Perhaps they should pick a better team than one that has lost 19 of its last 20.
Stewart halved the deficit with 1:59 left in the second before Atlanta took a brief 3-2 lead on a pair of Oduya goals 68 seconds in the final period. They were the first two goals of the season for the Swedish blueliner, who was traded to the Thrashers last season from the New Jersey Devils as part of the deal that shipped Iyla Kovalchuk to Newark.
Rob Schremp tied the game at the 9:15 mark before Little put the Thrashers ahead for good with a shorthanded tally. Burmistrov posted the final Atlanta goal, deflecting Brent Sopel’s shot at 14:16 of the third.
Burmistrov also got in his first NHL fight with the Islanders’ John Tavares seconds later – well, if you call it a fight. It looked more like a wrestling match, with Burmistrov ultimately taking Tavares down to the ice.
“He was pretty aggressive on the faceoff after the goal and he slashed me a couple times,” Burmistrov told the AJC’s Chris Vivlamore. “He slashed me twice and I just turned around and go. If I saw it was a tough guy maybe I don’t go, but I saw he was a normal player, so I go.”
Blake Comeau capped the scoring with a power play tally with 1:16 left in the game.
Chris Mason allowed four goals on 29 New York shots in his first game since Nov. 14 en route to notching his seventh win of the season.
“You steal a game here or there that maybe you don’t quite deserve,” Ramsay told the AJC. “Somebody saves you, whether it’s offensively or the goalie.”
Sopel had a pair of helpers for the Thrashers, who head to Ontario for a matchup against the Ottawa Senators on Monday.
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