Thrashers win another in dramatic fashion

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – It almost went from bad to worse for the Thrashers.


That was until Johnny Oduya and Bryan Little saved the day.

Oduya scored two third-period goals -- his first two of the season. Little scored a short-handed goal directly off a faceoff. The result was a 5-4 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday night at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

One day after a loss prompted coach Craig Ramsay to sit two regulars, the Thrashers needed the late heroics to defeat the worst team in the NHL.

The Thrashers (16-11-3, 35 points) scored four times in the third period for their ninth win in the past 11 games. They were coming off a 4-2 home loss to Colorado on Friday. The Islanders entered the game with a league-low 15 points, one fewer than the Thrashers earned by winning eight of their past 10 games.

Oduya scored twice 1:18 apart to give the Thrashers a temporary 3-2 lead. His first came 11 seconds after a Thrashers power play had ended, a slap shot that beat Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro to tie the game at 2-2 5:45 into the final period. His second, another slap shot, gave the Thrashers a one-goal lead.

“It’s something that doesn’t happen too often for me,” Oduya said.

Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay was waiting for it.

“We knew he was due,” Ramsay said. “We’ve talked all year about getting goals from everyone, that everyone has to participate. Sooner or later they do. They key issue is to make sure everybody understands that.”

The lead was short-lived as the Islanders’ Rob Schremp tied the game at 3-3 when he poked a rebound past Thrashers goaltender Chris Mason with 10:45 left.

Little gave the Thrashers the lead for good when he won a faceoff in the Islanders zone and it went directly into the net. Dustin Byfuglien was serving a hooking penalty, taken 34 seconds after Schremp’s goal.

“It took a second to realize what happened,” Little said. “I was just trying to get it through. It surprised me as much as anyone. I meant to shoot it on net. I didn’t think it would work that good.”

The Thrashers iced the game when Alexander Burmistrov deflected a point shot from Brent Sopel into the net. The goal came four seconds after Evander Kane missed a penalty shot.

Burmistrov would get into his first NHL fight 43 seconds later when he took on the Islanders’ John Tavares.

“He was pretty aggressive on the faceoff after the goal and he slashed me a couple times,” Burmistrov said. “He slashed me twice and I just turned around and go. If I saw it was a tough guy maybe I don’t go, but I saw he was a normal player, so I go.”

Mason earned his first victory since Nov. 3 when he faced 55 shots in a win over Florida.

He stopped 25 shots for the seventh win of the season.

“There was a little bit of everything in that one,” Mason said. “The Islanders work hard, but we’ve been in this situation before. In the third period, we had our best period.”

PA Parenteau scored with 1:16 remaining on a 6-on-4, with the Thrashers short-handed and DiPietro on the bench for the final margin.

The Islanders took a 2-0 lead on goals by Matt Martin and Matt Moulson, both coming off crazy bounces off the boards and glass.

The Thrashers started the opening period short-handed. Nik Antropov was called for a double minor for high-sticking five minutes into the game. The Thrashers killed off 3:45 of the penalty when Rich Peverley was called for boarding, giving the Islanders a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:15. When it was all said and done, the game remained scoreless and the Islanders had a total of two shots in the six minutes of power-play time.

The Thrashers made it a one-goal game going into the final period on Anthony Stewart’s goal with 1:59 remaining in the second period. Sopel carried the puck into the Thrashers offensive zone, went around the net and finally slid a pass that Stewart knocked into the net for his eighth goal of the season.

“You steal a game here or there that maybe you don’t quite deserve,” Ramsay said. “Somebody saves you, whether it’s offensively or the goalie.”