The Thrasher won Saturday 4-2. They won Friday 4-2 in New Jersey. They lost 4-2 in Ottawa the game before that and won 4-2 in St. Louis the time before that.
Anyone sensing a trend here?
Another trend with the Thrashers…beating the Buffalo Sabres.
Picking up where they left off last season, when the Thrasher went up against the Sabres four times and came away with two points all four times, Atlanta traveled to western New York and came away with a win. However, unlike last year, this time they didn’t even do Buffalo the courtesy of allowing them the consolation point that comes with losing to us in overtime.
Like the Thrashers, Buffalo was playing on the tail end of back-to-back games…the Thrashers winning in New Jersey 4-2 Friday night while the Sabres won at home 6-3 against the Islanders. It was the first regulation loss of the year for the Sabres and Atlanta improved it’s record to 4-1-0…3-1-0 on the road trip with one more game left.
Kaptain Kovalchuk scored goals number six and seven on the year…both coming in the first period, one on the power play. Todd White also scored on the power play in the second…his initial goal of the season. Johan Hedberg made is first start this year, stopping 40 of the 42 Sabres shots…19 of 20 in the third period alone.
Oh, and Moose collected an assist as well…very nice.
But the play of the night came with 3:17 left in the game when Maxim Afinogenov made his return to western New York a very memorable. Just 17 seconds after Drew Stafford’s power play goal pulled the Sabres to within a goal and made it appear as though a nail-biter type of finish was in the offing, Max took a pass from Kozlov on the left side then proceeded to undress defenseman Taylor Myers on his way towards Patrick Lalime.
The finish was as good as the move…much to the delight of the home crowd.
I don’t think Afinogenov could have picked a better setting in which to score his first ever goal in a Thrashers uniform, eh?
Nik Antropov had a pair of assists, as did Slava Kozlov. For the Slavanator it was his first points on the season. For Nik they were points numbers three and four.
Mark Popovic played on defense while Anssi Salmela sat. Pops finished with no points and a +1 rating during his 14:02 TOI. Atlanta is undefeated in all three games he’s played in…just sayin’.
The penalty kill unit was again a big part in Saturday’s win. They were successful four times out of five in Buffalo…this after shutting down all six of the Devils man-advantages the night before. The biggest kill of the night came in the second when Atlanta successfully held Buffalo scoreless on a full two-minute 5 on 3. For the season now, Atlanta’s PK is an outstanding 85.0% effective, which is 8th best in the NHL.
Yes…we are talking about the Thrashers penalty kill.
The biggest difference in the penalty kill unit this season and that of season’s past is how aggressive they play while down a man. They pursue the puck and keep those skates a-movin’. By getting to the puck more often, they are able to clear the puck from the zone more times and get fresher legs on the ice. A fairly simple explanation, I know…but it is making a big difference.
On the opposite end of the special teams play is the very effective power play of the Thrashers. After their 2 for 5 performance in Buffalo, it is has been successful an impressive 37.5% of the time this season…which is the best PP% in the NHL.
Not to be overlooked also… the effort put in by the Moose. It’s not like the Sabres didn’t come to play this night as they launched 42 shots on Atlanta’s backup keeper. As stated above, almost half of those shots came in the final twenty minutes and Hedberg only allowed the power play goal during that final period.
The win now gives the Thrashers 8 points after 5 games played which equals their best start in their history. They started the 2003-04 campaign with three wins and a pair of ties for eight points as well. The sixth game of that season six years ago ended in a 3-2 overtime loss in Tampa and was followed by a 4-2 win against Nashville… giving them 11 points after seven games.
Game six this season will come Tuesday in Montreal…game seven against the Capitals will be Thursday when the Thrashers are actually allowed to play another home game. A pair of wins there will set a new high for points after seven games played by Atlanta.
Great Time At TJ’s…As Per Usual
There was a tremendous turnout at TJ’s Saturday night as about 150-ish loud, raucous Thrashers fans packed into TJ’s to enjoy the game. The Thrashers Fan Club came out in force and the staff there provided their usual fantastic service. The DJ Tim had there did a great job of making the place sound and feel a lot like a home game at Philips Arena.
Thrash made a showing as well, but he just didn’t seem to appreciate it when I offered him one of my Buffalo chicken wings… I wonder why.
The entire staff of The Blueland Chronicle was a no-show…and for that they will each be admonished at the next Blogger Summit. However, Daculafan of FanThrashtic was there at my table…along with Spud Webb, Paminski, Mr. Paminski as well as a very cool fan…I believe his name was Jeff. A few lurkers also were kind enough to introduce themselves…always a pleasure to meet the good people out there.
Tim has invited us all out again on November 7 when the Thrashers are on Lonnnn-Gisland…a game that will again not be aired locally…as well as on Thanksgiving Eve when the team travels to Detroit. Also, TJ’s will be the gathering point this Saturday for those of us making our way down to Philips on the Party Bus to see the San Jose Sharks.
I want to wish Tony a very happy 29th birthday. Hey Tony, your lovely wife also wanted me to let you know that by having me give you this birthday shout out…it counts as her gift to you.