ATLANTA — Atlanta Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay took a gamble and won.
Tim Stapleton and Bryan Little scored in the first two rounds of a shootout and Toby Enstrom had two power-play goals in the Thrashers’ 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.
Ramsay sent out Stapleton, who was just called up from Chicago of the American Hockey League, first in the tiebreaker.
“Well let’s see. We hadn’t won any, we hadn’t scored many, so seemed like a logical choice,” Ramsay said.
Logical or not, it paid off.
“I was real confident about putting him in there. He’s a great kid. We know he can shoot,” Ramsay said.
Stapleton, who has eight goals and seven assists in 20 games in the AHL this season but was failed to score a point in nine games with Atlanta, beat Tim Thomas with a shot through the legs to open the shootout. Atlanta’s Ondrej Pavelec stopped Boston’s Tyler Seguin bid before Little put the puck past Thomas. Pavelec then wrapped up his eighth victory in his last 10 home games, stopping Blake Wheeler.
The Thrashers snapped a four-game losing streak and ended the Bruins’ winning streak at three.
Wheeler and Patrice Bergeron scored in regulation for Boston.
“I have been on three flights in the last 24 hours, so I’m just glad we won,” Stapleton said, adding he was surprised to be chosen for the shootout.
“But he (Ramsay) told me earlier to think about it. I didn’t have much time to think about it.”
The Bruins outshot the Thrashers 44-32 overall, 18-7 in the scoreless third period.
Atlanta had a 5-2 edge in overtime.
“I don’t know if he (Pavelec) has horseshoes under his skates, but he made some big saves for them,” Boston’s Milan Lucic said.
“Yeah, we played well. If it weren’t for that darn scoreboard, we could have walked away from here feeling good,” Thomas said. “We made a lot of good plays, we just didn’t finish.”
Enstrom tied it at 2 at 9:21 of the second period, beating Thomas with a shot from the blue line for his seventh goal of the season.
“We have been struggling a little bit lately and it feels so good to be back on track,” Enstrom said. “With Ondrej in the net, he gives us a chance to win every night.”
The Bruins took a 2-1 lead 55 seconds into the middle period on Wheeler’s ninth goal. He beat Pavelec from the right faceoff circle after a pass from Mark Stuart.
Enstrom opened the scoring at 3:23 of the first period, knocking the puck between the legs of Thomas.
Boston tied it at 14:09 of the opening period when Bergeron took the puck at mid-ice and skated in alone and knocked in a backhander off the pads of Pavelec. Bergeron has eight goals this season.
Dustin Byfuglien assisted on Enstrom’s first goal, giving the defenseman three goals and three assists in his last six games. Byfuglien leads NHL defensemen with 14 goals and 39 points.
NOTES: Atlanta C Nik Antropov missed his fourth straight game because of a lower-body injury. He was placed on injured reserve before the game. Thrashers F Evander Kane injured his mid-body Tuesday night in a 6-3 loss at Pittsburgh. He didn’t play. … The Bruins were 11-1 in the last three seasons against Atlanta and outscored them 49-26 prior to Thursday night.
Jackets 3, Leafs 2
TORONTO — Kristian Huselius scored twice and R.J. Umberger added the winner on a third-period power play in the Columbus Blue Jackets’ 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.
Umberger scored his 11th goal of the season at 3:34 of the third. With Joey Crabb off for holding, Umberger tipped Rick Nash’s wrist shot past goalie Jonas Gustavsson.
Nikolai Kulemin and Tyler Bozak scored for the Maple Leafs.
The Blue Jackets have win two straight to improve to 19-15-3.
Columbus goalie Steve Mason stopped 20 of 22 shots for the victory, while Gustavsson made 29 saves.
Columbus got off to a quick start in a game highlighted by defensive gaffes and giveaways by Maple Leafs defensemen. Nash, from nearby Brampton, looked particularly dangerous early.
However, it was Kulemin who opened the scoring with his 13th of the season on a 2-on-1 with Clarke MacArthur. Toronto Marlies callup Darryl Boyce chipped the puck off the boards to Kulemin, who passed off to MacArthur. The winger held the puck as long as he could before sliding it across the crease to Kulemin, who shoveled it home.
Huselius answered less than 90 seconds later on a clean breakaway from center ice. After Toronto’s Phil Kessel gave the puck away in the Columbus zone, the streaking Huselius took a pass, skated in on Gustavsson and beat him through his pads.
Bozak’s fifth of the season on the power play restored Toronto’s one-goal lead with 18 seconds to play in the period. With Columbus’ Rostislav Klesla in the box for boarding, Kessel picked up the puck behind Mason and tapped it to Bozak at the side of the net. Bozak caught Mason looking the wrong way and chipped it in.
The tide began to shift in Columbus’ favor in the second period. Without dangerous forward Mikhail Grabovski, whose girlfriend went into labor Thursday, the Maple Leafs were unable to mount much of an attack and were hemmed into their own end much of the period. Columbus outshot Toronto 11-4 in the frame.
Huselius’ second goal tied it 6:47 into the period. It was a gift from Toronto Francois Beauchemin, who had trouble with the puck behind his net.
The puck took a funny bounce off the boards on a dump around and deflected off Beauchemin’s skate right onto Huselius’ stick to the right of Gustavsson. The shifty winger made a quick forehand-backhand move and beat the Toronto goalie.
NOTES: Brett Lebda leads all current Toronto players in career assists (8) and points (11) versus Columbus. He was a healthy scratch. … The Leafs are 2-6-0 on Thursdays this season.