Wild
Thrashers
2 - 3 Final - 2OT
  for this game

Christensen helps Thrashers stop slide

Mar 8, 2008 - 6:24 AM
By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- It may have taken extra time, but the Atlanta Thrashers finally won a game.

Newly acquired Erik Christensen scored the lone goal of the shootout after superstar Ilya Kovalchuk tied the game with 45 seconds remaining in the third period as the Thrashers halted an eight-game slide with a 3-2 triumph over the Minnesota Wild on Friday.

Colby Armstrong also netted his first goal for Atlanta and Johan Hedberg turned aside 37 shots for the Thrashers (30-32-7), who won for the first time since February 15.

"It's been a long time coming, and we've battled hard," Atlanta coach Don Waddell said. "Finally, it's a huge monkey off our back. Hopefully, it will take some pressure off our guys and it gives us an opportunity to put some wins together."

Brian Rolston and defenseman Brent Burns scored for Minnesota (37-26-6), which fell to 0-2-1 in its last three but remained even with Calgary (35-23-10) for first place in the Northwest Division. The Flames suffered an overtime loss to the Nashville Predators on Friday.

"When you lose a game, even in a shootout, you can't be happy," Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom said. "Hedberg played great tonight. He made some key saves early in the third. He kept them in the game."

Things have not been going Atlanta's way of late, as the club had endured one of its more miserable stretches. But in the shootout, the puck finally bounced the Thrashers' way.

The 24-year-old Christensen, who was acquired along with Armstrong from Pittsburgh in the blockbuster trade for Marian Hossa on February 26, had enjoyed success in the bonus format, converting 14-of-23 attempts with the Penguins.

But like many of the Thrashers of late, Christensen also struggled in the shootout, missing both of his first two opportunities with the club. Nevertheless, Waddell chose to stick with the third-year center.

"Erik's specialty over the last two years (has been the shootout)," Waddell said. "That's his bread and butter."

Waddell appeared to make the right decision.

After Vyacheslav Kozlov and Mikko Koivu failed to convert in the first round, Christensen unleashed a wrist shot that bounced off the left goalpost before hitting the back of Backstrom and careening into the net.

"Finally, we got a lucky one," Kovalchuk said. "When you lose eight in a row, it's not fun. We had a great comeback."

Burns was unable to tally on Minnesota's next attempt and, after Kovalchuk's bid to end the shootout sailed wide, Hedberg stopped Rolston to clinch the Thrashers' first win over the Wild in seven all-time meetings.

"Moose (Hedberg) did a great job for us," Armstrong said. "He competes so hard and is so intense. It was a good, solid team effort for the entire game."

Despite the loss, Wild coach Jacques Lemaire was not disappointed with his team's effort.

"Everyone did their job the best they could," Lemaire said. "Tonight, we played fine. We have to get back on the winning track and try to bounce back."

Struggling offensively of late, the Wild opened the scoring on a power play midway through the first period.

After Jim Slater and defenseman Garnet Exelby received penalties 36 seconds apart, Burns dished to Rolston, who rifled a one-timer over the glove of Hedberg at 10:47 to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead.

It was the 25th goal of the season for Rolston and first power-play tally in 16 tries by the Wild, who last scored with a man advantage on February 29 against the Florida Panthers.

Things did not look particularly good for the Thrashers early on, as the club once again came out flat.

Atlanta, which had one more penalty (four) than shots on goal (three) in the opening period of Wednesday's loss to Southeast Division-leading Carolina, found itself on the wrong side of the scoresheet following the first of this one after being outshot, 16-5.

And it looked as if Atlanta's stretch of futility would reach nine games after it squandered a two-man advantage of its own in the second period, mustering just one shot on net during the 5-on-3.

However, the club finally broke through with a power-play goal with 5 1/2 minutes left in the third. Armstrong deposited the rebound of Kovalchuk's shot from the high slot into a vacant left side of the net to knot the contest at 1-1.

Minnesota regained the lead as Burns beat Hedberg with a shot from the left point during a power play with 2:22 remaining.

Hedberg vehemently protested the goal, claiming that he was illegally obstructed by in the crease by a Minnesota left wing Aaron Voros and was whistled for a 10-minute misconduct penalty.

The Thrashers seemed to feed off of their veteran goaltender's emotion as Kovalchuk answered with his team-leading 44th goal in the final minute, unleashing a shot from the left faceoff circle that trickled past Backstrom.

"We were not going to be denied tonight," said Hedberg, who is not yet ready to count his club out of the playoff race. "We came back twice. We have to make the most of it with the games we have and see what happens. We have to believe and take it one game at a time."






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    Wild 2, Thrashers 2  End of OTMar 7 10:17 PM


  • NHL
    FINAL IN SHOOTOUT 1ST 2ND 3RD OT TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    MINNESOTA 1 0 1 0 (0) 2
    ATLANTA 0 0 2 0 (1) 3 FINAL IN SHOOTOUT
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: MIN - (PP) BRIAN ROLSTON 25 (BRENT BURNS, MARIAN GABORIK)
    10:47
    2ND PRD: NONE
    3RD PRD: ATL - (PP) COLBY ARMSTRONG 10 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, VYACHESLAV
    KOZLOV) 14:30
    MIN - (PP)

    Wild 2, Thrashers 3  Final - 2OTMar 7 10:17 PM


  • NHL
    END OF OT 1ST 2ND 3RD OT TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    MINNESOTA 1 0 1 0 2
    ATLANTA 0 0 2 0 2 END OF OT
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: MIN - (PP) BRIAN ROLSTON 25 (BRENT BURNS, MARIAN GABORIK)
    10:47
    2ND PRD: NONE
    3RD PRD: ATL - (PP) COLBY ARMSTRONG 10 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, VYACHESLAV
    KOZLOV) 14:30
    MIN - (PP) BRENT

    Mar 7 10:12 PM
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    Wild 2, Thrashers 2  OT - 4:19Mar 7 10:05 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 3RD GOING INTO OT
    1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MINNESOTA 1 0 1 2
    ATLANTA 0 0 2 2 GOING INTO OT
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: MIN - (PP) BRIAN ROLSTON 25 (BRENT BURNS, MARIAN GABORIK)
    10:47
    2ND PRD: NONE
    3RD PRD: ATL - (PP) COLBY ARMSTRONG 10 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, VYACHESLAV
    KOZLOV) 14:30
    MIN - (PP) BRENT BURNS 12 (BRIAN ROLSTON,

    Mar 7 10:03 PM


  • NHL
    MINNESOTA 2
    ATLANTA 2
    3RD PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 44 (TOBIAS ENSTROM, BOBBY HOLIK) 19:15
    (WITH EXTRA ATTACKER)

    Wild 2, Thrashers 2  3rd - 0:45Mar 7 10:02 PM
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    Wild 2, Thrashers 2  3rd - 0:45Mar 7 10:02 PM


  • NHL
    MINNESOTA 2
    ATLANTA 1
    3RD PRD: MIN - (PP) BRENT BURNS 12 (BRIAN ROLSTON, PIERRE-MARC
    BOUCHARD) 17:38

    Wild 2, Thrashers 1  3rd - 2:22Mar 7 9:55 PM
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    Wild 2, Thrashers 1  3rd - 2:22Mar 7 9:55 PM
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    Wild 1, Thrashers 1  3rd - 5:30Mar 7 9:49 PM


  • NHL
    MINNESOTA 1
    ATLANTA 1
    3RD PRD: ATL - (PP) COLBY ARMSTRONG 10 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, VYACHESLAV
    KOZLOV) 14:30

    Wild 1, Thrashers 1  3rd - 5:30Mar 7 9:48 PM
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  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MINNESOTA 1 0 1
    ATLANTA 0 0 0 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: MIN - (PP) BRIAN ROLSTON 25 (BRENT BURNS, MARIAN GABORIK)
    10:47
    2ND PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MIN 16 11 27
    ATL 5 8 13
    GOALIES:

    Mar 7 9:05 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MINNESOTA 1 1
    ATLANTA 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: MIN - (PP) BRIAN ROLSTON 25 (BRENT BURNS, MARIAN GABORIK)
    10:47
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MIN 16 16
    ATL 5 5
    GOALIES: MIN - NIKLAS B

    Mar 7 8:14 PM


  • NHL
    MINNESOTA 1
    ATLANTA 0
    1ST PRD: MIN - (PP) BRIAN ROLSTON 25 (BRENT BURNS, MARIAN GABORIK)
    10:47 (TWO-MAN ADVANTAGE)

    Wild 1, Thrashers 0  1st - 9:13Mar 7 7:58 PM
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