PHILADELPHIA — A two-goal deficit against a team that hasn’t lost a third-period lead all season in a tough arena to earn a victory sure seemed insurmountable.
Not for the Atlanta Thrashers.
Jim Slater’s second goal of the game snapped a tie and lifted Atlanta to a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.
The Thrashers rallied from a 3-1 deficit to earn a rare victory in Philadelphia and hand the Flyers their first loss when leading after two periods. The Flyers were 22-0.
“This was a big win against a good team in an arena we haven’t been successful in the past,” Slater said. “Philly is a tough place to play. It shows a lot of character to score three in the third.”
Ilya Kovalchuk and Rich Peverley also scored for the Thrashers, and Evander Kane set up both of Slater’s goals with nifty wraparound passes.
Atlanta moved one point ahead of the Flyers, who entered the night in a four-way tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
“We needed to play a better third period. We needed to play with more energy,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. “Our desperation level needs to be higher for 60 minutes. It was sporadic.”
Claude Giroux, Arron Asham and Dan Carcillo had goals for Philadelphia, 11-5-1 in its last 17 games.
The Thrashers have been dominated by Philadelphia during their 10-year history. The Flyers are 29-5-4 against Atlanta, including 14-2-3 at home.
Trailing 3-1, the Thrashers quickly went to work in the third. Kovalchuk scored his 31st goal just 29 seconds in to cut it to 3-2.
He picked up a loose puck off a faceoff and shot one over goalie Ray Emery, who was sprawled on the ice.
A few minutes later, Peverley slipped by the defense, took a long pass from Pavel Kubina and scored a breakaway goal to tie it at 3.
Then Kane skated down the left side, went around the net and placed a perfect pass on Slater’s stick. Slater slipped it in for a 4-3 lead with 6:32.
Kane and Slater hooked up on a similar play to put Atlanta up 1-0 late in the first.
“They were big goals,” Kane said. “I just tried to get to the net and get some space and I put it on his stick.”