Thursday night the Thrashers got a pair of goals from team captain Ilya Kovalchuk. They got a two point night from Maxim Afinogenov, scoring a power play goal and assisting on one of Kovy’s. Nik Antropov was good for a pair of helpers…his fifth and sixth of the season… and Zach Bogosian chipped in with a fine short-handed goal as well.
Atlanta held the Washington Capitals to only 28 shots on goal…the first time all season they’ve held an opponent to under 30, (although they did so in Montreal prior to going into overtime), and the defense kept Alex Ovechkin off the score sheet all night.
The power play produced 2 goals on seven chances.
The penalty kill unit was perfect on all seven of the Caps man-advantages.
And they lost…5-4.
The difference in this game…a one-minute and twenty-eight second stretch in the second period in which Washington scored not once…not twice…but three times.
It all began harmlessly enough as Washington’s netminder Semyon Varlamov moved the puck out from behind his own goal over to Jeff Schultz. Shcultz then proceeded with it into the back end of the faceoff circle to the goalie’s right and flipped the biscuit up-ice out of the defensive zone….through the neutral zone…bouncing it’s way though the Thrashers end of the ice…toward Ondrej Pavelec who was stationed in front of Atlanta’s goal. Pavs crouched to deflect the puck away from the net and….
What in the world….OPIE!!
How did that….OPIE!!!
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot…OPIE!!!!
It took a bad hop up off the ice just before reaching him…freaky enough play…but really, if you are a goalkeeper in the NHL you just cannot let that wind up in the net. If a goalie allows goals like that too often…then for him N-H-L will stand for Not Here for Long…with apologies to Jerry Glanville.
OK…fine. It’s 3-2 Caps with half a game to play. Twice before the Thrashers found themselves in a one-goal hole in this game and both times they drew even shortly there after.
Washington had taken a 1-0 lead just after the two-minute mark of the opening period as Eric Fehr took a center ice pass from center ice and broke in of the goal. He beat Ondrej Pavelec with the shot as defenseman Christoph Schubert sprawled in an unsuccessful attempt to make up for being beaten.
However, Atlanta knotted it up via the power play…one that lasted but three seconds. Max took the faceoff win by…what’s this? Nik Antropov…and push it past Varlamov to tie the score at one. After falling behind 2-1, Kaptain Kovalchuk evened things up with 2:58 left before the first intermission.
So, two times already they answered goals by the Capitals. Certainly with the way this offense is clicking they can find a way too….
Oh no…what the….$#%@! …now it’s 4-2 just 72 seconds later!
Alright…two goals down and still half a game to play. We’re still in this game…if we can just….
Oh my Gawd…not again. 5-2 just 14 second after the last one as Chris Clark crams home a rebound off the boards! What in the wide, wide world of sports is a-goin’ on out there?
And with that came the end of the night for Ondrej Pavelec. After 31:48 second and allowing five goals on 14 shots, John Anderson made the Moose call. Actually, it was 13 SOG and that…thing…from 180 feet away, but I digress.
Personally, I would have given Opie the hook 14 seconds earlier, although I’m sure some would have liked for it to have happened after the freak-show goal.
Hedberg did his part as he restored order in the goal…stopping all 14 shots he faced and allowing the team to try and claw their way back into the game. Moose now has a 1.40 GAA and a .964 SV% during the game and a half he’s played in.
To their credit, the Thrashers did indeed make a game of it at the end. Bogosian’s shorty at 4:51 of the third gave some hope…then Kovy’s power play slapper with under a minute to play provided an exciting finish.
Atlanta went on the power play…oh sorry, make that the Coca-Cola Power Play… for the last 30 seconds when Ovechkin took a tripping minor. Afinogenov had a couple of whacks at the puck from the right side of the goal in the dying seconds…but he and the Thrashers came up just short.
Who would you put in goal Saturday night?
Total Voters: 112
Obviously, there will now be some debate and discussion in these parts given to the question of just who Anderson should toss into the goal Saturday when the Sharks swim into Thrasherville. Does he return Pavelec to the goal…telling him he’s the number one guy, just shake Thursday night off? Or does he go with the apparent hot-glove by riding the Moose?
In the past, when the goalie in question was Kari Lehtonen, I’ve advocated putting him back in. A goalie is going to have an off night here and there…but if he’s feels as though one bad outing is going to cost him his job, the pucker-factor is gonna get a tad high for the kid. Opie has done well overall and I don’t think one bad game should cost him the starting job…at least not right now.
But I would have a very short leash on him Saturday.
So, I’ll toss the question out to you. Do you think Pavelec should be the man ‘tween the pipes when the Sharks attack Saturday night?
Or is Opie’s returning to the net this weekend…ahem…a long shot?
Drilled For Two Minutes
Ondrej Pavelec wasn’t the only person in Thrasherville having a rough couple of minutes Thursday night.
During the Two Minute Drill…an in-game contest in which a lucky fan wins a prize if the Thrashers score during a specific two-minute time frame…featured a good friend of this blog. I call him “Pinhead” because the hat he wears sports about 13,852 Thrashers/hockey pins on it. He’s the husband of “Libby”, who opines in the comment section occasionally…she would prefer it if I call him “Mr. Libby” here.
Unfortunately for Pinhead, the plan did not go accordingly as the Thrashers did not score during his allotted time frame.
Washington, on the other hand, did score twice…or was it three times, I lost count… during his Two Minute Drill. I believe Jay Bird told him that because of that, Mr. Libby owed him a prize.
Tough night all around, Pinhead! But hey…you still got to sit next to one of the prettiest ladies in the arena last night!