Ok, let’s see…I got a Kane… a Peverley, aka the Pevs Dispenser… and a Kovalchuk reference all in on one title. No too bad, eh?
Anyway…a few hours ago I was curbing my excitement of Ilya Kovalchuk’s possible return to the ice after just six games missed with the hope that he wasn’t just rushing things…not giving the broken foot enough time to fully heal.
Consider me completely at ease now.
In a very entertaining and fun to watch hockey game…one coach Anderson called “one of our best games of the year”…the Atlanta Thrashers made Ilya Kovalchuk’s return to the ice a successful one, beating the Rangers 5-3. The captain scored a power play goal and chipped in with an assist on Rich Peverley’s goal…also of the power play variety…as well as Maxim Afinogenov’s empty-net icer at the end.
Ilya led the Thrashers with 6 shots on goal while Maxim Afinogenov and Christoph Schubert…or could that bet, SHOOT-bert…each had 4.
Kovy and Kane teamed up for a pair of bang-bang goals that took a 2-2 game late in the second period to a 4-2 advantage heading into the break. Kovy snapped home a wicked shot for his tenth goal of the season, fourth while on the power play, at the 17:41 mark to give Atlanta a 3-2 lead. He and the Thrashers had no sooner ended their celebrations when, just 25 seconds later, the Rangers where Kaned by Atlanta…young Evander netting his fourth of the season with the assist going to the Pevs Dispenser.
For the night, Rich had a goal and a pair of helpers as he now leads the Thrashers in scoring with 20 overall points. Kane finished with a goal and assisted on Colby Armstrong’s goal that opened up the scoring just 19 seconds after the puck dropped to start the game.
Kovalchuk returned with a lot of energy and spirit… and the team seemed to feed off of it throughout the game. He and Max had several great passing flurries that lead to good scoring chances…a few of which appeared as though they were thinking pass almost too much, giving up shots trying instead to set up the other. Ilya, Max and Nik Antropov seem to have not missed a beat during the 6 games that Kovy missed due to injury.
Meanwhile… that line of Kane, Peverley and Armstrong just keeps chuggin’ along as well.
Gotta say I’m a big fan of the new defensive pairings by Anderson…Toby Enstrom playing alongside of Pavel Kubina and Zach Bogosian skating with Ron Hainsey. Nice mix of veteran experience and youth’s strength and energy.
Johan Hedberg made his second straight start after Sunday’s 3-2 shootout win. Moose stopped 33 of New York’s 36 shots and improved his record to 3-1-0, lowered his GAA to 2.77 and now sports a nice .917 SV%.
The 8-6-1 Thrashers will now wing their way home to play the 11-6-2 Los Angeles Kings Friday night…then they’ll face the Edmonton Oilers during a Sunday afternoon Matinee.
Weekend Reading Assignments
Just in time for Ilya’s return, Tom Ferda opines on Thrashers Kaptain Kovalchuk.
Donald Fehr, the outgoing executive director of MLB’s Player Association will help the NHLPA search for a new leader.
Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com asks…are happy times nearing in KHL-NHL relationship?
And finally…this from Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski. Former Thrasher Glen Metropolit could shoot an apple off your head.