NHL Game Summary - Boston at Atlanta
(Saturday, April 15th)
Final Score: Atlanta 4, Boston 3
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Scott Mellanby and Andy Sutton scored third- period goals to rally the Atlanta Thrashers to a critical 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins at Philips Arena.
Sutton finished with a pair of goals and an assist while also making a key save late in the first period for the Thrashers, who won their fourth straight game and kept their playoff hopes alive.
Atlanta, which played its final home game of the season, trails Tampa Bay by three points for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Lightning defeated Carolina 3-2 in overtime on Saturday.
"What a great game," said Thrashers head coach Bob Hartley. "We set ourselves up for the [final] two games [of the season]."
Mellanby and Jim Slater each notched a goal and an assist for Atlanta, while Mike Dunham made 23 saves in the victory.
Mariusz Czerkawski, Marco Sturm and Travis Green scored for Boston, which closed its season with five straight losses -- three in overtime and all by one goal. The Bruins, who finished the campaign with a record of 29-37-16, also lost their last 11 road games (0-9-2) of the season.
"Obviously, it [was] a trying year for all of us," said Bruins head coach Mike Sullivan. "There was an expectation coming in that we didn't live up to, and we all take that personally."
Tim Thomas stopped 31 shots in defeat.
The Thrashers trailed 3-2 heading to the third period, but scored a pair of goals in a span of just over three minutes to take the lead.
Mellanby netted his 12th goal of the season at the six-minute mark to tie it. Slater raced into the Boston zone along the left wing with a 2-on-1 and fed a pass to the top of the crease for Mellanby, who watched the puck go off his skates and into the net. A video review determined there was no kicking motion.
Sutton then scored his second of the game just 3:09 later. He picked up a loose puck at center ice, skated into the Boston zone along the right wing and rifled a high shot from the circle under the crossbar to put Atlanta ahead.
"These games have been the biggest so far in my career and it's nice to step up and help the team," said Sutton.
Dunham made the goals stand up, stopping all nine shots he faced in the third period.
The Bruins grabbed a 2-0 lead on first-period goals by Czerkawski and Sturm.
Czerkawski netted his eighth of the season at the 7:40 mark, blasting a rolling puck from the top of the left circle through Dunham's pads. Sturm added his 29th just under three minutes later, alone in front of the crease with a re-direction of a right wing feed from Patrice Bergeron.
The Thrashers answered with a pair of goals before the end of the period to tie it.
Sutton deflected a Niclas Havelid point shot past Thomas for his first goal of the game with eight minutes left and Slater snapped a shot from the right circle through Thomas' pads for his 10th goal with 3:19 to play.
In between, Marc Savard was denied on a penalty shot by Thomas, who made a nice blocker save. Savard was taken down by Boston's Glen Murray on a breakaway.
Boston had a chance to go in front in the final 30 seconds of the period, but Sutton -- with Dunham on the other side of the crease -- got in front of a wide open cage to deny Bergeron from point-blank range.
"Seems like every night someone else is scoring the big goal or making the big play," said Dunham of the team effort. "Tonight it was Andy Sutton. He made a few big blocks and a huge save when I was out of the net and saved a goal."
The Bruins went back in front at 5:31 of the second period when Green scored shorthanded. He skated in on a breakaway, cut from the right circle to the top of the crease and deposited a backhander past Dunham for his 10th goal of the season.
"When we got up 2-0 and 3-2, I thought there was a good chance that maybe we could end the season with a win and feel good about ourselves, but it wasn't meant to be," said Thomas.
The Bruins, who will finish last in the Northeast Division, last won a road game on February 8 at Pittsburgh. Boston finished with a road record of just 13-22-6...Atlanta, which closed with a home record of 24-13-4, will visit Washington on Monday before heading to Florida on Tuesday for its regular season finale...The season series between the Bruins and Thrashers finished with each team winning twice.
04/15 22:42:15 ET