As seen on NESN -- The Boston Bruins defeated the Atlanta Thrashers 5-3 Wednesday night in Atlanta. New B's goaltender Alex Auld (23 saves) earned his third straight victory for Boston and rookie power forward Milan Lucic scored the game-winner late in the third period. New Thrasher Mark Recchi scored two goals for Atlanta in a losing effort.
Boston Bruins goalie Alexander Auld makes a save as Atlanta Thrashers forward Eric Perrin (11), and Bruins defense Dennis Wideman battle during the third period of a hockey game Wednesday, Dec. 12 2007, in Atlanta. Boston won 5-3. (AP Photo/John Amis)
"I think it's paramount for success," said Lucic to NESN's Rob Simpson to explain how important the now palpable chemistry in the Black & Gold dressing room has been to the team's success. "If a team likes being around each other it makes it that much more fun to play.
"And I feel as if it is getting better and better as the days move on.
"The guys are having fun and it just showed on this road trip," he said.
Surely the B's had not expected to encounter much fun when they headed South as they arrived in Georgia just in time to face Recchi, the new Thrasher sniper, just recently acquired from Pittsburgh. But Atlanta would have to deal with the Bruins own newcomer -- Auld, the heretofore undefeated for Bruins netminder who made 44 saves to defeat Buffalo on Monday.
The goalie (now 3-0 for Boston) and his new teammates came into the game riding a short win streak, having won the first two games of their current three-game road trip, but having earned a 3-1-1 record in their last five contests.
On the opposite bench, the Thrashers had their own two-game win streak stopped via a 6-3 loss in Washington on Dec. 8, but, like Boston had taken points out of four of their last five games with a 3-1-1 docket.
Unfortunately for the 14,265 in Phillips Arena, the home squad would not garner any points on this night. However, entertainment-wise, the outcome was in question until the waning minutes of the final period.
Atlanta Thrashers forward Ilya Kovalchuk, right, battles Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference (21) for the puck during the first period of a hockey game Wednesday, Dec. 12 2007, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
To start, the game was a back-and-forth affair thought the first 10 minutes, and both sides had excellent chances to put themselves in control of the scoreboard. But in each instance, Auld, or his counterpart in Atlanta blue, Johan Hedberg, was able to turn away the offending shots.
But then, for the 20th time this season, the B's scored first and instead of back-and-forth, the contest looked to be a Black & Gold affair.
After blocking a puck in his own end, recovering from a nasty check over the boards at the Atlanta bench and sprinting towards the Thrashers goal, Petteri Nokelainen hit the back of the net to make the score 1-0 Boston at 16:01.
Giving testament to the timbre of the game, as the teams left the ice for the first intermission, a quick scan of the stats showed Auld with three saves, while Hedberg had a dozen.
The Bruins remained on course and went up 2-0 at 5:55 of the second when playmaking Peter Schaefer deflected an Andrew Ference slapper past the Atlanta netminder.
Earlier in the week, Recchi had said that he was not through, and thanks to his efforts, neither were the Thrashers on this night.
On the power play, Recchi scored his first goal of the evening at 10:28 of the second to cut the B's formidable two-goal lead in half. It was the veteran forward's 511th NHL goal, in his 19th NHL season.
Then, just moments later, Recchi scored his second goal of the night, and second goal in his first game with his new team, at 11:29 to make the score 2-2.
Shortly thereafter, the games physical play erupted, tempers flared and Mark Stuart left with a 5-minute major and a game misconduct. That penalty, and the minors that followed it lead to a lengthy 5-on-3 situation, which eventually put Boston down 3-2 when Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk scored at 16:44.
Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic, second from left, and forward Peter Schaefer (72) celebrates Lucic's goal that put them ahead against the Atlanta Thrashers during the third period of a hockey game Wednesday, Dec. 12 2007, in Atlanta. Boston won 5-3. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Lucic set up Glen Murray to knot the game at 18:53 and sent the teams to their locker rooms tied 3-3 after two sessions.
"To come back and score at the end of the period is always how you get the momentum," said Murray. "I think we had the momentum when we came out for the third and played pretty solid."
In the third, however, Lucic would loom large yet again as he drove to the net gathered a rebound and slammed the puck home for his second of the season at 16:13 to put Boston up 4-3.
Former Thrasher Marc Savard clinched the match for Boston via an empty net goal with at 19:56.
"We didn't lose our composure," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "And that big goal at the end of the second period was really huge.
"It got us right back in the game.
"In the third, we stayed disciplined (and won) a twenty minute game," he said.
Boston flew home after the game and will face New Jersey at home on Thursday night.