Here is my game story, with quotes, on the Thrashers’ 1-0 win over the Capitals on Wednesday night for those who would like to comment.
How weird does this sound?
The Capitals were just what the ailing Thrashers needed.
The Thrashers snapped a three-game losing streak — and collected only their fifth win in the past 17 games — with a 1-0 victory on Wednesday night at Philips Arena. The Thrashers ended their season series with the Capitals holding a 4-1-1 record, outscoring them 20-13.
The Thrashers (24-19-9, 57 points) kept a one-point lead on the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race heading into the All-Star break. The Capitals (27-15-9, 63 points) lost for their second straight, but their first in regulation in six.
Ondrej Pavelec was excellent in goal while earning his fifth career shutout and third of the season. He stopped all 36 shots he faced.
“It’s totally his win tonight,” said forward Nik Antropov, who scored the only goal. “He was standing on his head tonight.”
Pavelec made several big saves in front of the net. He robbed Capitals’ star Alexander Ovechkin with a big glove save with 20 seconds left in the first period. He also preserved the win with a glove save in the final minute when the Capitals used an extra skater.
Pavelec has allowed the Capitals just one goal in the past three games, stopping 110-of-111 shots.
“It was time to step up,” Pavelec said. “The last couple of games we didn’t play well and I didn’t feel well in the net the last couple of games. It was a big win for us.
“… If you look at their lineup, they have great players. I think it’s just luck. It’s not about me. It’s about the team. Every time Ovie and those guys step on the ice we know where they are. We were close to them and we skated with them.”
The Thrashers’ lone goal came in the second period. It was Antropov’s ninth goal of the season. The forward took a pass from Fredrik Modin and wristed a shot past Capitals goaltender Semyon Varlamov with 8:39 left. Modin set up the goal by chasing down a puck in the offensive zone and swiping it from Capitals defenseman Jeff Schultz. The goal was Antropov’s second in the past three games. He also has five points in the past six games.
“I kind of read the play,” Antropov said. “I thought it was [Modin] or [Eric Boulton] on the boards chipping it out. I raced for the puck. Freddy did a great forecheck and I stayed high and Freddy found me. I looked back and there was nobody around me. Schultz was checking Freddy so I got quite a bit of time.”
Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay shortened his bench in the win, basically using three lines for much of the game. Patrice Cormier played three shifts and none after seven minutes of the first period. Tim Stapleton played one shift and Boulton played two over the final two periods.
“It’s such an important game and there was nothing to save anything for,” Ramsay said. “I certainly don’t like to do that. … We needed to win. I believe we can win with four lines. Sometimes you just get a feeling.”
The victory was the Thrashers’ first in regulation since a 3-2 win over Florida on Jan. 5. Ramsay has pleaded with his team to find a way to win close games and to keep their composure.
On Wednesday night they did just that.
“Even though they ran some really good cycles on us, we stopped in our own zone and then reacted quickly to their point shots,” Ramsay said. “We were able to block a bunch of them, especially our defense. They had to wrist it by our forwards and then it’s much easier to make a block. That was a big issue for us tonight. I also thought in our own zone we won quite a number of really key faceoffs.”
Both teams were missing top players. Evander Kane, who has five of his 13 goals this season against the Capitals, was out with a mid-body injury. The Capitals were without Alexander Semin, who had six points (four goals, two assists) in the five previous games against the Thrashers.