SUNRISE, Fla. – Bryan Little hung in with the Atlanta Thrashers’ chances rapidly fading.
He turned it around for Atlanta nearly by himself, scoring and assisting on two goals in the final two minutes of regulation as the Thrashers beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 in a shootout Monday night.
“We knew we had the team to come back in these type of situations and we just stick with it and we finally got a break at the end,” Little said. “Once we got that one goal, we thought we’d get another one.”
Little and Alexander Burmistrov scored in the shootout that Atlanta won 2-1, clinching the victory when Ondrej Pavelec stopped Cory Stillman’s wrist shot on Florida’s third attempt. Mike Santorelli scored on the Panthers’ first try for a 1-0 lead in the shootout.
Little and Burmistrov scored on Atlanta’s first two attempts.
“That’s a dramatic one to pull out,” Atlanta coach Craig Ramsay said. “We are fun to watch.
“We don’t quit. Very seldom do the boys give up.”
Little and Chris Thorburn scored in regulation for Atlanta, which snapped a four-game losing streak.
Pavelec stopped 38 shots. The Thrashers had given up 24 goals in their previous four games.
“He gave them a chance to hang around, that’s what he’s been doing all year for them,” Florida coach Pete DeBoer said. “Again, the story for us is the inability to cash in that third one.
“You let a team hang around, sometimes that’s what you get.”
Dennis Wideman and Dmitry Kulikov scored in regulation for the Panthers, who had won three in a row and failed to win four straight for the first time since March 2008.
Scott Clemmensen, making his third consecutive start, stopped 28 shots.
“It’s disappointing enough to give up that lead and give them a point to go to overtime and then to lose that extra point as well,” Clemmensen said. “It’s disappointing, especially the way it happened there in the last two minutes.”
Stephen Weiss had two assists.
Atlanta trailed 2-0 when Little scored off a rebound in front of the net at 18:02 of the third period with Pavelec on the bench for an extra attacker.
Thorburn scored 44 seconds later when he tipped in Little’s wrist shot from long range.
The game was scoreless after two periods before Wideman scored at 4:30 on a two-man advantage. He scored his third goal in four games by beating Pavelec with a wrist shot over the left shoulder.
Kulikov made it 2-0 at 7:18 with a short backhand while he was standing in front of the net. Pavelec stopped the shot with his leg but it went in off defenceman Brent Sopel.
“I thought we deserved to win that game,” Wideman said. “We played well.
“The first goal, the puck was just bouncing around all over the place, we just couldn’t find it, ended up going right to one of their guys and he bats it in. The second was kind of a flukey one again.
“What do you do? They kept battling, you’ve got to give to them, but I thought we deserved better than that.”
Notes: All four meetings between these teams this season have been decided by one goal. Atlanta has won three of them. … Weiss’s assist on Wideman’s goal was the 200th of his career. … Atlanta placed G Chris Mason on injured reserve because of a lower-body injury and recalled Peter Mannino from the Chicago of the AHL. … Atlanta LW Freddy Modin missed his fourth consecutive game because of a mid-body injury. … Florida C Mike Santorelli assisted on Wideman’s goal to extend his point streak to six games.