Craig Ramsay had a list of things he wanted to see in the Thrashers second exhibition game.
1. Cycle the puck.
2. Offensive zone pressure.
3. Defensemen join the offensive rush.
Ramsay saw a lot of good – in stretches and sometimes to a fault. However, the result was a 1-0 loss to Carolina, dropping the Thrashers to 0-2 in the preseason.
“Much better,” Ramsay said of the Thrashers play, one game after a 5-2 loss to Columbus. “… Our defensemen did a great job of jumping up the ice, almost to a fault. You’ve got to start somewhere. We just didn’t finish. We missed our chances when we had them. More shots, more opportunities to score goals but we’ve got to get one to go in. They got a funny one and we ended up losing.”
Ramsay said he felt the Thrashers cycled the puck in their offensive zone and kept pressure on the Hurricanes for “extended periods of time.” That was an improvement over the exhibition opener.
Jeff Skinner scored the game’s lone goal for the Hurricanes. It came 1:17 into the third period after a breakdown between defenseman Zach Bogosian and goaltender Chris Mason. The puck rolled off Mason and in front of the net where Skinner knocked it in.
Just 38 seconds later, Carolina’s Sergei Samsonov slammed into the boards after a tripping call on Thrashers defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. Samsonov hit head first and initially was on his stomach and kicking his feet. After being motionless for several minutes, he was placed on a backboard and removed from the ice on a stretcher. The left wing was taken to an undisclosed hospital for precautionary tests. According to the Hurricanes, Samsonov had sensation in all his extremities after reportedly suffering a sprained neck.
“I poked at the [puck] and I turned,” Byfuglien said. “I don’t think I hit him bad. It was kind of a toe pick and he went into the boards funny.”
Mason, who stopped 28 shots, called the game-winning goal a miscommunication.
“I put [the puck] back in the corner and it came back out and went to their guy right in front,” he said. “… We want to get those out of the way early. This was the first time we have played together, so we are working on our calls and our communication. Better know then two weeks from now.”
Ramsay said the goal was an issue with defensive position on a breakout play.
“The goal was very unfortunate,” he said. “Another breakout play that didn’t work. I thought our defenseman didn’t follow through the way they were supposed to, they didn’t go to their positions, so [Bogosian] had to go on his backhand and we mishandled the puck and it ends up in the net. I thought we were in great shape and suddenly it ends up in our net. Those breakouts we work on the just about every day and we will continue to do that so we try to eliminate those errors.”
Cam Ward stopped 32 shots for the Hurricanes.
The Thrashers compiled 11 penalties, but the Hurricanes were 0-for-8 on their power play chances. Ramsay mixed the combinations of the penalty-kill unit with nearly every player seeing short-handed ice time. The Thrashers failed to convert on five power-play chances in a game that featured a combined man-advantage time of 20:08.
“Our guys worked really hard,” Mason said. “This was a typical preseason game. We still have some things to work on, but I thought the guys really worked hard. We’re picking up some of the systems here, but we still have work to do.”