Thrashers survive shootout in Sunrise

Shortly after Rich Peverley’s game-winning shootout goal gave the Thrashers a 2-1 win against the Florida Panthers…coach John Anderson and the rest of the coaching staff departed to the locker room with big, broad smiles on their faces. Their team had just stolen two points on away ice in a game they very easily could have wound up with none…and the team of coaches looked like they just wanted to get out of Sunrise, Florida quickly, before someone could find a reason to take the points back.

For much of the game, the Panthers did a very good job of keeping Atlanta’s high-powered offense off balanced by playing a chippy, grinding kind of a game. They held the Thrashers scoreless for the first 58:56…which is even that much more impressive considering the amount of time Florida played shorthanded in the second period.

A very scary moment for Thrashers fans came at the 2:39 mark in the second period when Toby Enstrom was driven into the glass by Panther forward Michael Frolik. The boarding call brought with it a five-minute all-you-score power play for the Thrashers and an early exit for Frolik. Atlanta was not able to capitalize however…nor were they able to score on the power play that came just six seconds after the Panthers killed off the major. Same with the eight seconds worth of a 5 on 3 when Bryan McCabe elbowed Ilya Kovalchuk up around his throat. Ditto the subsequent 5 on 4 for 1:52.

Ilya Kovalchuk celebrates tying the score with Toby Enstrom and Maxim Afinogenov who assisted on the goal (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Ilya Kovalchuk celebrates tying the score with Toby Enstrom and Maxim Afinogenov. Both assisted on the goal (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

For the night, the Thrashers failed to score on four power play chances and are 0 for 7 in their last three games while on the man advantage. Since the shootout loss to Boston on November 19, the Thrashers have been successful only three times on their last 30 power play opportunities, (10.0%).

Three or four times during regulation, Atlanta went postal…clanking the puck off the iron. But with just 64 seconds left in the game and the Thrashers down 1-0, Kaptain Kovalchuk was able to finally find the net, beating Tomas Vokoun with a blast from the right side after a great pass from Maxim Afinogenov.

I’m not sure…but after Kovy’s score, I think I saw Vokoun looking around to see where Keith Ballard was.

After surviving the five-minute overtime period in which the Panthers took all five shots on goal…the Thrashers found themselves in a shootout in Sunrise with a chance to steal away not one…but two points on this night. After Stephen Weiss was stopped by Johan Hedberg to open the individual skills exhibition, Kovalchuk blasted one past Vokoun again.

And that’s when the post started becoming the Thrashers friend.

In the second round, Nathan Horton heard more than a Who…he heard the puck ring off the left post. Slava Kozlov was then unsuccessful on Atlanta’s second attempt and the Steven Reinprecht kept Florida’s hopes alive with a goal to open the third round. Afinogenov’s attempt then was stopped by Vokoun… leaving the shootout at 1-1 after three rounds.

Rostislav Olesz was up next for Florida and for the second time in four chances, a Panthers player struck iron on his shot…this one ricocheting off the crossbar.

Peverley then dispensed of the Panthers by burying his shot over Vokoun’s right shoulder.

Rich Peverley ended the shootout with a goal, giving Atlanta a 2-1 win in Florida

Rich Peverley ended the shootout with a goal, giving Atlanta a 2-1 win in Florida (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Goalkeeping was a big reason for tonight’s win. Moose started in goal and stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced. One huge save came in overtime when he was able to deny Weiss while on his backside after a rebound deflected off to his right. Hedberg improved his overall record to 7-2-0 with a 2.24 GAA and very impressive .932 SV%.

“Without our goalkeeping we wouldn’t be where we are today”, coach Anderson told Matt McConnell during the post-game show. “It’s certainly different from last year”.

Atlanta has now moved its record to 15-8-3 for 33 points. To give you an indication of how far this team has come since last year…last year’s Thrashers squad was not able to notch their 33rd point until the second half of the season…coming after game number 42 by way of a 4-0 win in New Jersey on January 8 last winter.

Stealing these two points was a fantastic way to get the cross-continental road trip off to a fine start. The Thrashers will now travel north of the border for a Monday night matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs who find themselves at 8-13-7 following the 7-2 beating suffered in Boston Saturday. Later in the week they’ll play in Calgary and Vancouver.

Hopefully, Anderson and his coaching staff will be smiling just as much then as they were on this winning night.

60 comments Add your comment

World Be Free

December 7th, 2009
4:45 pm

NYC-the Bills are heading to Los Angeles. I think Toronto was in the mix originally, but the league wants a team in the 2nd largest market, which currently does not have a team. Once Ralph wilson is gone, the Bills are history. All of Buffalo knows this, about half have accepted it!

Giving up on revenue sharing will doom the small market teams. The NFL is strong in the smaller markets with very little competition with other fall sports. The NFL believes that they can get away with this, since MLB already does!

NYC

December 7th, 2009
5:19 pm

(NFL is strong in smaller markets)

I think Jacksonville begs to differ with you.

Kari's Dad

December 7th, 2009
6:39 pm

Stendec, your posts are short compared to some of these long winded story tellers. Why do you not like my son?

Brendan

December 7th, 2009
7:49 pm

It’s hilarious that Toronto’s fans see us, the Atlanta Thrashers, are a thug team, full of goons who can’t play hockey. But, I suppose, we do tend to go into Toronto with that “chip on our shoulders.” Waddell wants to prove his team is good. John Anderson wants to show all the people he used to play in front of … that he’s a good coach.

And when the Thrashers win, the patrons at the Air Canada Center will declare, “See, this is why the league shouldn’t have expanded so much. Even these southern markets can field a competitive team.” Those who don’t feel that way, feel this way, “How BAD are we … that we just lost to Atlanta? Fire the GM!!” Okayyyy. Not every Leaf fans feels this way. Sheesh.

It’s 0-0, after one period. Let’s go Thrashers! It was a tremendous 1:43 seconds of 5-on-3 Penalty Kill.

Tom

December 7th, 2009
8:33 pm

Can we say meltdown. Yuck. Bad passing, bad effort, bad bad bad… 5-0

Bluenote

December 7th, 2009
8:50 pm

Wiskey Tango Foxtrot Boyz?

….within one goal of a Damian Rhodes record of 6 goals in a single period (vs Ottawa, I believe)

Highly un-good

Michael B. Shapiro

December 7th, 2009
8:59 pm

I can hear stendec’s rant already. In 10 years of watching the Thrash, that may have been the worst 2nd period ever. Just end it now and move on to the Calgary game.

Brendan

December 7th, 2009
10:48 pm

Ya know, Michael B. Shapiro, I would have thought that Pavel Kubina and Nik Antropov would have had this date circled on the calendars. Kubina was a -3 and Antropov a -2. Maybe I’m just imagining it, but hasn’t Moose traditionally played well in Toronto? Or against the Leafs, in general? At least he performed triage pretty well in the third period. I think this is the 4th time Hedberg has relieved Pavelec this season. And to my recollection, Moose has only surrendered one (1) goal when he does relieve Pavelec.

When teams come into Toronto and win, the media says things like, “It’s HOMECOMING for too many players around the league. That’s why we lose.” I do wonder what they say after wins? Perhaps, they should cite that it’s HOMECOMING for their own Leaf players, who play before their Ontario-based families ALL THE FREKKIN’ TIME. Forty-one (41) times a year, to be precise. Not counting preseason or those odd, occasional playoff games.

I didn’t Brian Burke’s face all night. Was he there???

Brendan

December 7th, 2009
10:50 pm

Another verb omission. I didn’t SEE Brian Burke’s face all night. Was he tipping beers with Waddell, up in the Gondola?

Tom

December 7th, 2009
10:54 pm

Brendan,

Maybe part of the deal for Kubina was giving up the game plan to the Leafs.Sure looked that way tonight.