NHL: Penguins defeat Thrashers, catch Devils
Saturday, March 24, 2007
After chasing the New Jersey Devils the entire season, the Pittsburgh Penguins have finally caught up. With only 15 games remaining between the two clubs, the Penguins have arrived at 94 points, to pull into a virtual tie with New Jersey. New Jersey holds the tiebreaker, with 43 wins against the Penguins' 42. The two points that the Penguins received today wouldn't prove to be easy, though, as they would have to defeat the Southeast division leading Atlanta Thrashers.
Michel Ouellet, assisted by Gary Roberts and Evgeni Malkin, gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead at 7:55 when he beat Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen to score his 17th goal of the season. Jocelyn Thibault would hold Atlanta scoreless through the first two periods until Scott Mellanby finally broke through to score at 6:18 into the final period. With the score tied 1-1, Jordan Staal would score what would prove to be the game winner on a fluke shot from behind the goal line at 10:19. Assists were credited to Ryan Malone and Josef Melichar. Despite desperate play and a pulled goalie in the final minutes, Atlanta couldn't find the net, and the Penguins would hold on for the win. Thibault was spectacular for the Penguins, stopping 25 of 26 shots. Thrashers goaltender Kari Lethonen was almost as good as Thibault, stopping 26 of 28 shots faced.
The Penguins return to the ice tommrow when they will host the Boston Bruins at Mellon Arena. Atlanta does not play again until Wednesday, when they will travel to Florida to take on the Panthers.