The Thrashers (22-18-7, 51 points) now hold just a one-point lead over Carolina for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. Carolina defeated Tampa Bay 6-4 on Saturday and has 50 points, with three games in hand on the Thrashers.
The Thrashers were done in by a former goaltender again. For the second time this season, a goalie on last season’s roster stopped them. Kari Lehtonen defeated his former team, which sent him to Dallas in February. Johan Hedberg beat the Thrashers on Dec. 31.
The Stars (27-13-5, 59 points) are now 11-1-1 all-time against the Thrashers.
Mason was injured early in the first period when teammate Chris Thorburn slid into him trying to block a shot. Team trainers looked at Mason, who appeared to injury his right knee, and he continued to play. However, when Anthony Stewart was called for goaltender interference at 7:48, Mason headed to the locker room. Ondrej Pavelec took over, but Daley scored with 17 seconds left in the power play. It was the first shot Pavelec faced.
“It’s good to be physical but I’m not taking credit for running the goalie,” said Stewart, who finished with 16 minutes in penalties. “I was bumped from behind.”
Ramsay said Mason will be re-evaluated on Sunday.
The Thrashers tied the game in the second period of Andrew Ladd’s 16th goal at the 6:21 mark. Ladd scored from the right point. Dustin Byfuglien was in front of Lehtonen, along with Nik Antropov, providing a screen. Ladd and Byfuglien are tied for the team lead in goals, and the Thrashers' captain now has a six-game point streak (four goals, three assists). Enstrom had an assist to extend his point streak to six games (one goal, eight assists).
The Stars answered with two second-period goals. Adam Burish scored at the 13:58 mark. The goal came on only the Stars’ 11th shot of the game. Daley added his second goal of the game with 54.3 seconds remaining. The score came with 37 seconds left on a tripping penalty to Eric Boulton.
“The shots were 20 to nine for us [at one point in the second period],” Ramsay said. “We had a meeting today and I thought the response, from the vast majority of our team, was tremendous. We took the play to them. We did a really solid job of supporting each other and playing like a team. I was proud of the way they came out and I certainly was not the way they finished. You have to be committed for 60 minutes.”
Neal scored twice in the third period, once on a 2-on-1 breakaway and once on a power-play goal, as the Stars broke open the game. Jeff Woywitka also scored on the power play, the two goals coming on a double-minor high-sticking penalty on Stewart.
The game got off to a physical start as the teams nearly fought before the first puck was dropped. Boulton and Mike Ribeiro exchanged words at center ice, and soon every player was milling. Video replays clearly showed Ribeiro spit at Boulton’s feet.
Boulton later fought with Krystofer Barch, and Thorburn fought Brian Sutherby. The game also featured several big checks, with the Stars called twice for boarding.
“I thought we did a good job of outplaying them for two periods,” Peverley said. “… They capitalized on their power play. That’s obviously something we have to clean up. I think if we put a couple games together of getting hot on the PK that’s going to help you win games. That’s been one of our downfalls right now.”