Thrashers hold on against Islanders

December 11, 2010

Even a big boost in attendance from former fans of the Quebec Nordiques couldn't help the New York Islanders.

Bryan Little's short-handed goal with 8:25 left lifted the Atlanta Thrashers to a 5-4 win Saturday night over the Islanders, who have the worst record in the NHL.

New York, which led 2-0, dropped to 5-17-5 and has a league-low 15 points.

Defenseman Johnny Oduya had his first two goals of the season, and Alex Burmistrov and Chris Stewart also scored for Atlanta, which got 25 saves from Chris Mason.


Rob Schremp, Matt Martin, Matt Moulson and Blake Comeau had goals, and Rick DiPietro made 31 saves for the Islanders.

Bus loads carrying about 1,100 hockey enthusiasts - who call themselves Nordiques Nation - trekked from Quebec to Long Island to see the Islanders host the Thrashers. The group wants to prove to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman that Quebec deserves a new team.

The decision for Nordiques Nation to attend the game was calculated. The Thrashers and Islanders are 28th and 29th in NHL attendance. Only the Phoenix Coyotes are worse, with an average of 10,189 per game.

The Nordiques left to become the Colorado Avalanche before the 1995-96 season.

The traveling group split up and sat in seats behind both nets, cheering loudly throughout Saturday night's game. They boosted the attendance to 10,056.

It didn't help the Islanders, who fell to 1-16-3 in their past 20 games.

Little snapped a quick wrist shot past a clearly stunned DiPietro, who stood straight and stared straight ahead. Little's goal, scored while teammate Tobias Enstrom served an interference penalty, gave Atlanta a 4-3 lead.

Atlanta trailed going into the third but Oduya scored twice in a span of 1:18 to put the Thrashers ahead 3-2. The advantage lasted for 2:12, until Schremp tied it again with 9:15 left with his fifth goal.

Burmistrov's goal with 5:44 remaining made it 5-3.