By Phil Foley
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
ATLANTA (Ticker) — Michael Ryder and Manny Fernandez helped the
Boston Bruins continue their winning ways.
Ryder scored with 6:04 remaining in the third period to snap a
tie, enabling the Bruins to extend their winning streak to eight
games with a 2-1 victory over the hapless Atlanta Thrashers on
Phil Kessel netted his team-leading 22nd goal of the season and
Fernandez turned aside 32 shots as the red-hot Bruins matched
their longest winning streak since stringing together victories
over the final eight games of the 1992-93 campaign.
They have also won 13 of their last 14.
“You don’t think about it,” Kessel said of the streak. “You go
out there and play and try to do the little things right and get
better every game.”
Bryan Little scored for the sixth time in three contests for the
Thrashers, who have one win in their last 11 games at home.
“It’s frustrating,” Little said. “We worked so hard all game
and they scored in the last few minutes. We played good. We
all had good chances, but they had good goaltending tonight.”
Boston, which blew out Atlanta by a 16-9 margin in the first
three games of the season series, was mired in a 1-1 game until
the 28-year-old Ryder came through in the final session.
After David Krejci fed the Boston right wing a pass from just
inside the blue line, Ryder slid the puck between the pads of
Atlanta netminder Kari Lehtonen from the doorstep to give the
Bruins yet another win.
“It as kind of like a 2-on-1 break,” Ryder said. “If I went to
the net, I knew Krejci would make the pass. I was just trying
to chip it up over the goalie.”
Boston, which started the season a disappointing 2-2-3, began
its turnaround against Atlanta with a win on October 25. After
suffering its only setback in December to the Washington
Capitals on December 10, Boston began its most recent streak
with a pair of wins over the Thrashers.
On Sunday, the Bruins achieved the trifecta, defeating Atlanta
for the third time in 17 days and sweeping the season set for
the first time in franchise history.
“We have to understand that we’re no longer under the radar,”
Boston blue-liner Aaron Ward said. “We’re not going to sneak up
on anybody. Teams are well-prepared for us.”
The Thrashers made things interesting in the game’s final minute
as Chuck Kobasew drew a tripping penalty with 1:57 remaining.
But Fernandez shut the door, stopping Little’s rebound attempt
and two other shots with Atlanta’s man advantage.
“There were a bunch of guys in front,” Fernandez said. “I
didn’t see the first shot. I gave a bad rebound night on the
doorstep and had to make a desperation save. Some nights you
get those and some you don’t. Tonight was a night that you
Boston coach Claude Julien thought that his goaltender was good,
rather than lucky.
“I thought he was outstanding tonight,” Julien said of
Fernandez. “(He made) a couple of those key saves late in the
game, and consecutive saves when he stuck with it. I thought he
definitely made a big difference tonight in our win.”
Despite 27 saves from Lehtonen, the horrid Thrashers fell short
in “Blueland” once again, falling to 1-8-2 here since defeating
the Carolina Hurricanes on November 14.
“I think in terms of wins and losses, it doesn’t feel very
good,” Atlanta coach John Anderson said. “They scored late in
the game. We had a chance to win or tie to break (their
For a bit, it looked like it might be Atlanta’s night as Little
got the Thrashers on the board with a little help from the
Little attempted to find Atlanta left wing Ilya Kovalchuk with a
pass, but the puck bounced off of defenseman Matt Hunwick and
past Fernandez to give the Thrashers a 1-0 lead with 15 seconds
left in the first.
The lucky goal continued a torrid stretch for the Atlanta
center, who notched his first career hat trick in Atlanta’s 5-4
loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.
“As a team, we are getting a lot of chances,” Little said. “The
bounces are going for me, but not as a team. We were with
(Boston) all game. Just a couple of mistakes and it’s over.”
But Kessel, Boston’s 21-year-old sensation, drew the contest
even 1:43 into the second.
Kessel blasted a wrister from the high slot over the glove of
Lehtonen, tying the contest at 1-1. The Wisconsin-born Kessel
notched his career-best 38th point on the tally.