A four-goal, third period comeback wasn’t enough for the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night. They fell to the Atlanta Thrashers, 7-6, after coming back from a 6-2 deficit to start the final period.
Atlanta’s Patrik Stefan scored the game-winner with 4:11 remaining in regulation. With Detroit pressuring in the Thrashers’ zone, defenseman Andreas Lilja broke his stick on a shot and the puck went straight to Stefan. The stickless Lilja was the only blueliner back and couldn’t make the play, leaving Stefan free to skate in alone on goalie Chris Osgood and put one past him.
The Thrashers had opened the game’s scoring at 3:53 of the first. J.P. Vigier intercepted a pass in the Atlanta zone with the Red Wings on the power play. He was hooked by Tomas Holmstrom as he broke through the neutral zone but the delayed penalty was negated when he rushed in at goaltender Jim Howard – who started the game in net for the Red Wings – and scored.
Pavel Datsyuk scored the first of his two goals with 8:37 remaining in the period. As Detroit skated five-on-three, Brendan Shanahan sent a pass from one side of the crease to Datsyuk at the other, where he was free to put the puck in the net.
Stefan scored his first of the night with 2:55 left in the opening period, picking up a rebound in the left circle before spinning and putting a shot over Howard’s pad on the near side.
Datsyuk tied the game again at 2:04 of the second, scoring from the slot on another pass from Shanahan.
Bobby Holik scored on a 3-on-2 to put Atlanta back in front just 1:03 later, knocking in his own rebound.
Osgood entered the game in an effort to shake things up for Detroit but he was immediately faced with 4:14 of Atlanta power play time, including two times where the Thrashers had a two-man advantage.
Former Red Wing Vyacheslav Kozlov scored on the first five-on-three while Marian Hossa scored on the second. Ronald Petrovicky scored another power play goal on a three-on-none rush against Osgood.
Down by four with 20 minutes remaining, the Red Wings began their comeback on a two-man power play just 24 seconds into the third. Shanahan took the puck to the side of the crease and lifted a shot over the far shoulder of Atlanta netminder Michael Garnett.
Jason Williams scored 1:38 later to pull Detroit within two and Osgood made a huge save on an Ilya Kovalchuk breakaway just minutes later to keep the Red Wings in it.
With yet another two-man advantage, Detroit scored their third goal of the period at 8:01. Mathieu Schneider fired a shot from the right circle past Garnett as the Wings pulled to within one.
The game was tied when Tomas Holmstrom banged in a rebound on a power play 40 seconds later.
The loss broke Detroit’s three-game winning streak and three-game road winning streak. It was their first loss to the Thrashers in franchise history.
Osgood finished the night with 12 saves on 16 shots while Howard made 13 saves on the same number of chances against and Garnett stopped 30 of the 36 shots he faced.
Detroit went four-for-eight on the power play and allowed three goals on seven Atlanta power play chances.
The Red Wings continue their Southeast Division road trip on Thursday in Miami, where they’ll face the Florida Panthers.