UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Sure, the Atlanta Thrashers are a long shot to make the playoffs. A performance like this, though, still has them believing they have a chance.
Rob Schremp scored the winning goal against his former team as the Thrashers beat the New York Islanders 2-1 on Thursday night.
“We were focusing on pressure all week,” Thrashers right wing Chris Thorburn said. “We have to keep showing up like the way we did tonight.”
Andrew Ladd scored the other goal for Atlanta, while backup Chris Mason only needed to make 14 saves. The Thrashers have 74 points, seven behind eight-place Buffalo in the Eastern Conference. But Atlanta must also get past both Toronto and Carolina.
“We played aggressively,” Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said. “It was one of the best neutral zone games we’ve had. I have a lot of confidence in our team. We can’t ever give up.”
John Tavares was the only one to beat Mason, while Al Montoya made 32 saves for the Islanders.
“For them to shut us down was surprising,” Montoya said. “We’re trying to collect as many points as possible before the season ends.”
The Thrashers dominated the opening period and if it weren’t for the solid play by Montoya, the Islanders would have trailed by more than one goal.
“Almost, but at this point in the season, (almost) doesn’t help,” New York’s Kyle Okposo said. “We played desperate, but we’ve got to do it right from the start of the game.”
Atlanta took a 1-0 lead when Ladd, parked outside the crease, whacked home a pass from Blake Wheeler for his team-leading 27th goal at 7:56.
Atlanta again dominated the second period, outshooting New York 16-4 but the teams traded goals.
The Islanders tied it early in the second as Tavares poked in a loose puck just 98 seconds in. It was the only puck to get past Mason, who got the start in place of Ondrej Pavelec.
“I didn’t know I was going until I saw my name written down at the (morning) skate,” Mason said. “It was a great team effort.”
Schremp put Atlanta back in the lead for good when he beat Montoya for a power-play goal at 13:56. Schremp was claimed by the Thrashers off waivers from the Islanders before the trade deadline on Feb. 28. It was Schremp’s second goal in 10 games with Atlanta, and 12th overall.
Notes: The Islanders announced that D Mark Streit, out all season because of a shoulder injury sustained during the preseason, hasn’t been cleared by doctors and won’t play in New York’s remaining games. … Ladd is the only Thrashers player to surpass 20 goals. … If Islanders F P.A. Parenteau scores twice more in the Islanders’ last seven games, that will give New York five players with at least 20 goals (Tavares, Michael Grabner, Blake Comeau and Matt Moulson). … The attendance was 11,874.