ATLANTA – The Boston Bruins came into Philips Arena
Tuesday night clinging onto the final Eastern Conference playoff spot by just one
point but after the final buzzer they left with a three-point cushion and a 4-0 season
sweep over the Atlanta Thrashers.
Like in their last home game, a 5-2 win against the Flyers,
the Thrashers came out playing physical, throwing several hard hits including a
crunching check by Evgeny Artyukhin on Bruins’ center Vladimir Sobotka. Sobotka
needed several seconds to get up on his feet and managed to glide slowly to his
bench and never returned to the game.
At the 11-minute mark of the first period, Thrashers
enforcer Eric Boulton squared off with Bruins forward Shawn Thornton for a
slugfest with both players landing and taking several punches.
But although the Thrashers had a 6-3 edge in hits, the only
goal in the period belonged to the Bruins’ David Krejci who put the puck past Johan
“Moose” Hedberg at the 9:25 mark for his 15th of the year. That goal
would prove to be the game-winner as the Bruins coasted to a 4-0 win.
In that first stanza, the Thrashers had several quality
scoring chances but shot the puck wide on several occasions and only managed seven shots on goal against Boston rookie goaltender Tuukka Rask, the NHL leader in goals
against average with 2.08.
Trailing 2-0 late in the second period, Thrashers’
forward Colby Armstrong, who has been on a tear with four goals in three games, was awarded
a penalty shot but failed to capitalize on the opportunity. The Bruins
responded by netting another goal with just three seconds remaining in the period
to go into the second break with a 3-0 lead.
The Thrashers entered the game on a four-game win streak and
all those games were won after the team started with 2-0 leads. Atlanta is 4-28-6
when trailing after two periods and after falling behind by three against one
of the NHL’s hottest goaltenders with just 20 minutes to play, there was no
magic wand to wave on Tuesday.
After this home loss, the journey appears uphill from here
as the Thrashers with just nine games left find themselves three points behind that
final playoff spot behind the Bruins who also have one game in hand.