Penguins Fall to Thrashers 4-1

The Pittsburgh Penguins lost to the Atlanta Thrashers 4-1 on Wednesday, one night after beating the New Jersey Devils 4-2.  The Penguins outshot the Atlanta Thrashers 30-27, but were only able to put 1 (legitemately) past Kari Lehtonen on a chip shot by Ryan Whitney midway through the 3rd period.  Despite giving up 4-goals and being replaced by Dany Sabourin after letting in 2 early in the 3rd, Ty Conklin made some great saves to keep the Penguins in the game through the first 40-minutes of play.  

In the 1st period, the Thrashers scored twice,  The first goal came during even strength play on a backhand shot by Bobby Holik at 7:08.  Assists went to Chris Thorburn and Eric Boulton.  At 16:42, while Jeff Taffe sat for 4-minutes on a high stick infraction, the Thrashers scored again on a slapshot by Ilya Kovalchuk.  Steve McCarthy and Marian Hossa picked up the assists.  The Penguins outshot the Thrashers 9-7 in the first, but found themselves down 2-0.  Pittsburgh was 0-for-1 on the powerplay and gave up a goal during the double-minor penalty. 

Early in the 2nd, Jarkko Ruutu made knee-on-knee contact with Ilya Kovalchuk as he was trying to finish a check along the boards by the Thrashers’ bench.  Kovalchuk fell to the ice in pain.  Steve McCarthy objected to the hit and jumped Ruutu and began punching him repeatedly.  Ruutu never dropped his gloves or threw a punch, but somehow was called for a 5-minute fighting major.  He was also given a 5-minute major for kneeing and a game misconduct.  “I meant to finish my check,” Ruutu said. “He ducked away and I barely hit him. I didn’t change direction. I just went for a hit.  I got five minutes for fighting and I didn’t even throw a punch. I had my gloves on the whole time.”  McCarthy picked up a fighting major, a 2-minute instigator, and a 10-minute misconduct.  Kovalchuk went to the locker room, but returned to skate a single shift before leaving the game for good.  Late in the period, a goal by Nathan Smith was disallowed after an extended video review concluded that he directed the puck into the net with a slight forward movement of the skate, which was ultimately determined to be a kicking motion.  The goal would have been Smith’s first NHL tally, and could have likely altered the outcome of the game by getting the Penguins back into it before the star tof the 3rd.  But it wasn’t meant to be.  Shots were even in the 2nd at 10-apiece, with the Penguins going o-for-2 on the man advantage.  The Penguins managed to killed-off 7:20 in short-handed play in the 2nd period.

In the 3rd, the Thrashers got an early unassisted, short-handed goal by Eric Perrin at 1:32 to give the Penguins a 3-goal defecit.  They followed it up with another goal at even strength at 3:46 to put the game firmly out of reach for the tired and injury-riddled Penguins.   Mark Recchi assisted on the Jim Slater backhanded tally that beat Ty Conklin and sent him to the showers early in favor of Dany Sabourin.  At 8:42, the Penguins did manage to finally get one by Lehtonen when Ryan Whotney chipped a shot over his glove hand.  Erik Christenden and Max Talbot got the assists on the lone Penguins goal.  The Penguins outshot the Thrashers 11-10 in the final frame, and were 0-for-1 on the powerplay and 1-for-1 on the penalty kill.

The Penguins return to Pittsburgh where they will take on the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night before heading back to New Jersey for a game against the Devils on Monday night. 

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