Atlanta is desperate and confident, a combination the Thrashers hope will carry them into the NHL playoffs.
Sutton and Bobby Holik each scored twice and Mike Dunham stopped 32 shots to help ninth-place Atlanta move within four points of the eighth-place Lightning. The Thrashers can pull even closer to the defending Stanley Cup champion by beating Washington at home on Thursday night.
They had already clinched a playoff spot for the ninth straight season simply by earning a tie through regulation time, but there was no mention of that fact on the Devils’ bench as they awaited overtime.
“We wanted to get the win,” right winger Brian Gionta said.
No surprise there. Almost four months ago, many suspected the Devils might miss the postseason for the first time since 1996. A stressed-out Larry Robinson had resigned as coach and not even general manager Lou Lamoriello knew how the team would respond when he surprised everyone by taking over behind the bench.
Raising their record to 29-14-4 with Lamoriello as coach, the Devils secured a playoff berth while extending their winning streak to eight in a row by defeating the Carolina Hurricanes on Gionta’s overtime goal, 4-3, last night at the RBC Center.
The New York Rangers took a double shot in the mouth from their Long Island rivals. If they don’t win the Atlantic Division, they might feel the sting well into the playoffs. Miroslav Satan scored two goals, and Rick DiPietro made 22 saves in a frantic third period as the New York Islanders showed their pride and knocked off the playoff-bound Rangers 3-2 on Tuesday night.
MORE THAN conditioning or an ability to give and take hits, what stood out the other day when Keith Primeau practiced with the Flyers was his instant impact. He yapped. He chastised. He worked hard and made those around him work hard, too.
Zdeno Chara and Wade Redden returned to the Ottawa lineup to help the Senators regain the top spot in the Eastern Conference.