NHL Game Summary - St. Louis at Atlanta
(Wednesday, January 28th)
Final Score: St. Louis 1, Atlanta 1
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Dany Heatley made his return to the ice for the Atlanta Thrashers, who got a late third-period goal from Jeff Cowan to escape with a 1-1 tie against the St. Louis Blues at Philips Arena.
Heatley, the 2002 Calder Trophy winner as rookie of the year and last year's All-Star Game MVP, played 22:55 and got four shots on net. He looked winded at times, but played a strong game overall in his first contest since being injured in the September car crash that killed teammate Dan Snyder.
"Just being in the room between periods, being on the bench and being into the game -- I missed that a lot and it felt good to be back part of it," said Heatley after the game.
Pasi Nurminen stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced for the Thrashers, who remain winless in their last four games (0-2-2).
Scott Mellanby scored the lone goal for St. Louis, which also hasn't won in its last four games (0-3-1). Reinhard Divis stopped 22 shots for the tie.
Heatley, who suffered two torn knee ligaments and a broken jaw in the accident, has made dramatic progress in his rehabilitation. He began practicing with the team on January 16 and engaged in his first full-contact practice on January 21, his birthday.
"It was exciting today," added Heatley. "The fans were loud -- we've got great fans who supported me and supported us through this whole thing. I want to thank them all."
Heatley was the driver in the one-car accident, suffering a minor concussion, a contusion on his lung and a bruised kidney in addition to his other more serious injuries.
The game remained scoreless after two periods, with St. Louis outshooting Atlanta 19-9 after 40 minutes of play. But the Blues would score 5:17 into the third to break the ice.
Keith Tkachuk used a hand pass to get the puck out of the Blues' defensive zone, and it was apparently touched by Atlanta's Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, waving off a stoppage. Tkachuk moved the puck ahead to Doug Weight, who flew down the left side and got a pass off to Mellanby tight to the netminder on the right wing, despite being hauled down by a defenseman.
The puck ricocheted off Mellanby's right skate and past Nurminen into the net, and it held up for the 1-0 lead when the officials ruled that it was an inadvertent kick.
Atlanta got the equalizer with 2:24 to play in regulation, when Serge Aubin skated to the left side of the net and threw the puck in front. It bounced off a mass of bodies in front, then fell to the side of Divis. Cowan took two whacks at the puck and got it past the goaltender to make it a 1-1 contest.
Right off the bat, both teams had great chances in the first minute of the extra session, but the opposing netminders stood tall to the task. Nurminen faced more shots in overtime (7) than he did in the whole third period, while Divis stopped four shots in the extra session, one more than he did in the second stanza.
Weight's assist was his 33rd of the season...Both teams were 0-for-5 on the power play...The Thrashers are 1-5-1 in seven all-time meetings with the Blues, and the only win came in the teams' previous meeting on January 21, 2003...Atlanta is 4-2-6 in overtime, while St. Louis is 7-1-7...Cowan has goals in each of his last two games.
01/29 00:13:06 ET