Predators 2, Thrashers 1

A week ago, the Atlanta Thrashers looked like a surprise playoff

contender even without Ilya Kovalchuk.

Not anymore.

Colin Wilson scored off an Atlanta miscue and Dan Ellis turned

aside 30 shots, leading the Nashville Predators to a 2-1 victory

over the slumping Thrashers on Tuesday night.

Ryan Suter scored Nashville’s first goal, and Wilson took

advantage of a hideous turnover by Mark Popovic to make it 2-0

before the first period was done.

Ellis made the lead stand up. The Thrashers were held to a

second-period goal by Nik Antropov and took their third straight

loss, further dampening playoff hopes that looked so much better

just a week ago. Atlanta, which won its first two after the Olympic

break to move into the final playoff spot in the East, is now four

points behind Boston.

“We came off the Olympic break pretty good and were pretty

happy with our performances,” said Chris Thorburn, whose apparent

tying goal was disallowed after officials ruled he interfered with

Ellis in the crease. “But these last three games …”

Nashville snapped a two-game losing streak and strengthened its

hold on the seventh seed in the Western Conference.

“In the backstretch, it’s like playoff hockey,” Wilson


The Predators went ahead at 4:48 of the first when Suter scored

a power-play goal on a screened shot from the point. With Colby

Armstrong off for interference, Martin Erat clogged up things in

front of the net, and it appeared that goalie Johan Hedberg never

saw the puck.

Nashville extended its lead later in the period on Popovic’s

amateurish mistake. Skating out of his zone, the defenseman fanned

on a routine pass, then whiffed again as he hurriedly tried to

clear it. Wilson scooped it up, went in alone on Hedberg and scored

his fourth goal of the season at 18:38.

“I have pretty good speed, and that made (Hedberg) pull back a

little,” Wilson said.

Thrashers coach John Anderson refused to blame Popovic.

“It was just a bad bounce,” the coach said. “A little bump in

the ice and he missed the puck and it ends up in the net.”

The Thrashers sliced into the deficit in the opening minute of

the second period. Johnny Oduya flipped the puck toward the net,

and Antropov scored his 17th goal by redirecting it past Ellis.

Atlanta appeared to have scored the tying goal before the period

was over. Evgeny Artyukhin worked the puck in front and Thorburn

muscled it past Ellis. But the Atlanta forward was clearly inside

the crease, tangled up with the goalie, and the score was quickly

waved off by the officials.

“Quite frankly, I don’t know the rule anymore,” Anderson said.

“How many goals like that have we seen go against us? I don’t

understand what the ruling was. Was it goaltender interference? Why

don’t we have a penalty call?

“It was a game-changing call. I didn’t like it.”

That was Atlanta’s last gasp. Ellis turned aside everything

else, including a couple of big saves after the Thrashers pulled

Hedberg in the final minute for an extra skater.

“He shut the door,” Nashville’s Jason Arnott said. “He made

saves that could have been goals.”

The Thrashers, who traded away Kovalchuk in early February but

still thought they had a shot at slipping into the playoffs, know

they have to turn things around – quickly.

“We’re not out of it,” Thorburn said. “We’ve still got some

games left, but we’ve got to start putting some wins together

instead of losses.”

NOTES: Thrashers LW Evander Kane will be out three weeks with a

fractured left foot. D Christoph Schubert will be out three-to-five

weeks with a pulled muscle in his hip. … Hedberg also made 30

saves, including a stop on a short-handed breakaway by Erat. …

Nashville swept the season series with the Thrashers, 2-0.