Bryan Little and Fredrik Pettersson both had a goal and an assist but the Thrashers dropped their exhibition opener 5-2 to Columbus Tuesday at Philips Arena.
As the final score indicates, more went wrong than went right.
Columbus jumped to a 2-0 lead early in the first period with goals coming 28 seconds apart.
“Our breakouts weren’t good enough,” coach Craig Ramsay said. “We’ve worked at it a bit but we have to get back, we have to change sides. On one of their goals the goaltender threw it up past our D on the short side and you can’t do that in the National League. Those are little details that we have to work on. There is some communication that has to happen under circumstances like that. … I hate to say it, no excuses, but we looked a little tired. We wanted to change fast and keep up the pace but we looked a little tired. We know they’ve put in the effort the last couple days.”
Ramsay singled out the Nigel Dawes-Little-Pettersson line as a highlight.
“I thought our line, although it took awhile for us to get going, in the second and third we were really cycling it and creating chances,” Little said. “It was pretty easy to play with those guys. It was pretty fun too. We have some good chemistry.”
Little scored a power-play goal with five minutes remaining in the first period to make it 2-1. His goal was assisted by Jamie Sifers and Pettersson.
Columbus answered with two goals, in the second and third periods, to make if 4-1 before Pettersson’s tally. Pettersson knocked in the rebound of a Little shot. Freddy Meyer was also credited with an assist.
“It’s been three years since I was here playing,” said Pettersson, who spent the past seasons in his native Sweden. “Obviously it’s a little different. I felt pretty good out there. I had a lot of energy. Our line we played pretty good. We got some opportunities and we scored some goals.”
Ondrej Pavelec played the entire game in goal making 21 saves.
First-round draft pick Alexander Burmistrov admitted to being nervous before his first game. There were bright spots, but there is still a long way to go for the youngster, according to Ramsay.
“I thought he got better for awhile,” Ramsay said. “The penalty killing was good. He was good defensively. The one thing that we really want to do is not take the puck back into the neutral zone. … When he got his [hooking] penalty he had a chance to shoot it in, maybe re-attack it. He took in back and ends up with a penalty. He played well. I thought he battled hard. It’s just a matter of the pace once you get into a National League game of getting the puck and moving it, knowing where it’s going, not looking for something. There were times in the offensive zone he could have thrown it to the point and allowed us to get a point shot and he’s looking around rather than doing that. We want to get that puck moving around quickly.”
Ramsay opened his post-game press conference with a joke about the offense. “There’s that offense we promised you,” he said. “Go, go, go.”
There were issues with both the offense and defense, he said.
On the offense: “I talk about offense, and I continue to talk about it, the offense starts from inside your own zone or turnovers in the neutral zone and we didn’t do that. We didn’t create nearly enough.”
On the defense: “We didn’t break out well. That is a lot to do with quickness. We have to go back hard. We need both D to go back. We’ve told them. When you are a little bit tired you hesitate a little bit as well. You have to go back, change sides, get the team off the wall and get moving the puck.”
The Thrashers, with a new group of players, will play again Saturday against Carolina. Ramsay players will get another look and decisions won’t be made from one preseason game.