The Atlanta Thrashers overcame a two-goal deficit to push the game to overtime where they beat the Nashville Predators, 3-2, in a contest that was dominated in all categories by the Thrashers. Thrashers defenseman Zach Bogosian was the hero after he scored at 2:11 into the extra period.
Atlanta led in shots, 37-29, and more importantly, they won 36 of 51 faceoffs.
The Thrashers first two goals came off Predators’ defensive zone faceoffs and were scored by Jim Slater and Andrew Ladd, on a power play. The Predators’ offense was confined to a a two and a half minute segment of the first period when Colin Wilson and Steve Sullivan scored back to back goals.
Both Goalies played well in the contest, making several point blank saves. Ondrej Pavelec stopped 27 of 29 shots for the win while Anders Lindback took his second NHL loss as he stopped 34 of 37 Thrasher shots.
The Predators started the game well but received a big scare 3:08 into the game when a loose puck got behind Lindback and he was able to grab it as it slid through the blue ice toward the red line.
The Preds got the first goal of the game at 8:39 when Sergei Kostitsyn dropped a pass to Wilson in the high slot on on a full team rush. Wilson threaded the needle to put the puck in the net to take a 1-0 lead. Two and a half minutes later, at 11:09, virtually the same play gave the Preds a second goal, with Wilson taking the drop pass from Cal O’Reilly and firing from the same spot. This time Sullivan tipped the puck in the net to make it 2-0 Predators.
After a Predators power play that yielded three shots, Shea Weber had to leave the game at 16:14 when he was caught in the mouth with a high stick from Ladd.
For the first period, the Preds outshot the Thrashers, 12-7. One statistic that stood out and would lead to the Preds’ downfall was the Thrashers winning 14 of 18 faceoffs in the period. No Predator won more than one faceoff.
The Predators found themselves in penalty trouble early in the second with back to back penalties to Patric Hornqvist for goalie interference and to Jerred Smithson for interference. There was six seconds of overlap but the Preds added two more kills to their streak.
Weber was able to return to the game at 13:34 in the second whith a sewn up mouth and a face shield.
The Thrashers broke through with their first goal at 14:29 off of a face off when Tobias Enstrom fired a shot at the net that was tipped by Slater and Lindback had little chance to make a stop and the Preds lead was cut to 2-1.
Cody Franson was called for slashing Rich Peverly at 16:38 and the Preds Penalty kill unit extended their streak to 37. Both teams got a shot including one from about two feet by Joel Ward that was the play of the game by Pavelec.
For the second period, Atlanta dominated the statistics, outshooting the Preds, 14-7. There were few faceoffs in the period but the Thrashers won nine of thirteen.
The third period started with the Thrashers continuing their dominance from the prior period. The Predators got a rebound into the blue ice behind Pavelic, five minutes into the third period but Atlanta saved the near goal by the Predators.
Niclas Bergfors drew a boarding penalty from Weber at 6:44. The number one rated power play unit in the league broke the Preds’ PK streak at 37 when Ladd picked up a rebound off a Dustin Byfuglien shot at 6:49 to tie the game 2-2.
Jordin Tootoo left the game with an injury at 8:39 in the period and did not return.
The Predators held on for the remainder of the period and were outshot 14-9 by the Thrashers. Faceoffs continued to be an issue as they lost 11 of 18 chances.
In overtime, the teams traded shots and at 2:11, after multiple miscues at center ice that included a collision and stickless Kevin Klein, Ben Eager took the puck and passed it to an unguarded Bogosian who fired it in to the Predators’ net to win the game, 3-2.
The loss gave the Predators another point and gives them 30 points with a 12-8-6 record and dropped them into 10th place in the tightly bunched Western Conference race as San Jose moved up when they beat Detroit.
The Predators’ nine game penalty kill streak was halted at 37 straight kills that stretched back to the third period of the penalty kill melt-down in Toronto on November 16.
The Predators left immediately for Detroit where they will face the Red Wings on Wednesday night.