Thrashers beat up Flyers for fourth straight win

PHILADELPHIA – The Broad Street Bullies weren't that tough.

For two days, the Thrashers fought the Flyers, often using their fists, and came away with two important victories. With Sunday’s 3-1 win, Atlanta completed a season sweep of the Flyers.

Here's what really matters: The Thrashers have won four consecutive games and are just one point out of a playoff spot. Their win streak matches a season high.

Atlanta (32-29-11, 75 points) trails the Bruins, who won earlier in the day, for the final spot in the Eastern Conference race with 10 games to play. Oh, and the Bruins come to Philips Arena on Tuesday.

“We had to win four games this week after we lost five in a row,” Thrashers defenseman Ron Hainsey said. “The only thing that was going to keep us in it was four wins. Now we got a game for that last playoff spot.

"The biggest game of the year is on Tuesday.”

The Thrashers scored two first-period goals in picking up the victory, and Hainsey had a hand in all three goals.

One day after Jim Slater took on the Flyers’ Dan Carcillo, he fought Scott Hartnell. The Thrashers were not going to be pushed around, not by the Flyers and not by teams more certain about their playoff fate.

“You have to do something about it sometimes,” Slater said of his fight with Hartnell. “I was going to hit him. It’s a cheap play. After he shot the puck he kept his stick up and speared me in the stomach. I asked him if he wanted to go and he wouldn’t go. Then he just dropped his gloves right and came at me. … We are flexing our muscles back, especially against this team. They think they can’t be touched.”

The win was the fourth in six days against teams likely headed to the postseason.

Just a week ago, the Thrashers had fallen to 13th in the Eastern Conference after losing five consecutive games. The dramatic turnaround continued as the Thrashers have gone 4-0-1 since.

“The Flyers are a great hockey team and for us to beat them two games in a row is huge for this organization,” Thrashers coach John Anderson said.

Ondrej Pavelec stopped 44 shots for the victory in just his second start in over the past eight games.

“I played two games the last couple of weeks,” Pavelec said. “It was huge for me, but especially for the team because Boston won. I’m really happy for two points. The guys did a great job in front of me.”

For the fourth consecutive game time, the Thrashers jumped to a 2-0 lead, scoring a pair of first-period goals. In each game the Thrashers’ first goal came in the first three minutes.

Hainsey got things started with his fifth goal of the season at 2:04 into the game. He took a pass from Clarke MacArthur and buried a shot past Flyers goaltender Brian Boucher. The goal was helped when Bryan Little let the pass go by him to catch Boucher out of position.

Todd White made it a two-goal lead on a breakaway at the 11:01 mark. Slater and Hainsey were credited with assists on White’s seventh goal of the season. Hainsey has a three-point streak with a goal and four assists.

The Flyers managed just a third-period goal from Mike Richards.

Rich Peverley's goal with 3:07 remaining clinched the game for the Thrashers and sent a booing Flyers crowd to the exits.