Thrashers piling up overtime wins

TAMPA -- Dustin Byfuglien’s flair for the dramatic is starting to rub off on his teammates.

The Thrashers defenseman has already won two games this season with overtime goals. That included a wrist shot that beat the Islanders last month and prompted him to skate along the boards and wave at the frenzied crowd.

In the past seven games, the Thrashers have followed his lead, winning three times in overtime. Anthony Stewart, Zach Bogosian and Bryan Little scored in dramatic fashion as the charging Thrashers continued their winning ways. Most recently, Little scored 1:09 into overtime to beat Ottawa on Monday. That gave the Thrashers their 10th win in the last 12 games. Include that most recent Byfuglien game-winner and in the past 11 games, they have won four times when skating four-on-four.

“We have so many guys take their turn stepping up,” Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said.

The Thrashers lead the NHL with five overtime goals. Washington is next with four, followed by Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota and Wednesday opponent Tampa Bay with three each.

Include shootout victories and the Thrashers are tied for second in the NHL with six extra-time wins, tied with the Capitals, and trail only the Stars with seven.

“We are a good team in overtime, mainly because we just go for it all the time, anyway,” Ramsay said. “The one thing we talk about, which ended up working [Monday at Ottawa], is not to back up. We have an awful habit of backing up and letting team’s come at us.

"That’s what we did in the second period. If you watch the play, both Little and [Evander] Kane went deeper in the zone and chased [the Senators forward] back, made the stop-up play and we had two forwards ready to attack.”

The overtime wins have come in all manners.

  • Byfuglien gave the Thrashers a 4-3 win over Buffalo on Oct. 29. The Thrashers had fallen behind 2-0, rallied for a 3-2 lead and then watched the regulation win disappear when the Sabres scored with eight seconds remaining. The game-winner came 29 seconds before a shootout.
  • Byfuglien did in again on Nov. 21 in a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders, scoring 1:30 into the extra period.
  • Stewart's game-winner came on Nov. 30 in Colorado. His attempted pass to Byfuglien went on net and beat Avalanche goaltender Peter Budaj for a 3-2 win 1:49 into the extra period. The goal capped a comeback from a 2-1 deficit.
  • Bogosian's second goal of the season was the difference in a 3-2 win over Nashville on Dec. 6. His slapshot, on a pass from Ben Eager, at the 2:11 mark capped a comeback from a 2-0 deficit.

“We’ve shown ways to win,” Bogosian said. “... It isn’t always our best effort but finding ways to win, that’s what good teams do.”

  • Little's goal against Ottawa gave the Thrashers two points after they blew a 3-0 lead. He turned a Senators turnover into a 2-on-1 breakaway and fired the puck past goaltender Brian Elliot.

“In those tie games, that’s when we turn ourselves around,” Little said. “We have to stop putting ourselves in that position. It’s good that our team never quits like that.”