There are so many great things to discuss on this winning night…Ondrej Pavelec’s strong performance in goal…Eric Boulton’s first ever power play goal…lots of great work from all players on the ice…and even a real-life, honest-and-for-true regulation win for the Atlanta Thrashers, something that hasn’t happened since November 30.
But I simply have to start out with Todd White, who scored his first goal since October 29. That’s right, after 34 games without lighting the lamp…he netted a dandy of a goal 122 seconds into the second period, giving the Thrashers a 4-1 lead at the time. White finished with two points on one shot on goal and a +1.
The big moment came after Slava Kozlov fed him from the right corner…all alone, White then lifted the pick over the shoulder of Brian Elliot, who had just entered the game in relief of Pascal Leclaire.
And of course, the goal also officially gets him off the milk carton…which is great news indeed as most law enforcement agencies say that when someone goes missing for this long, it normally doesn’t turn out very well.
All joking aside though, congrats Todd…I hope it’s the first of many more the rest of the way.
Halfway through the first period though, it looked like White’s night might have been finished. He tweaked his right knee during a face off in the offensive zone and needed assistance off the ice. Fortunately, however, he was bale to return after the break.
But the Thrasher that shined above all others in this game was Ondrej Pavelec, who turned aside 30 of the 31 shots the Senators took…many of them of the outstanding variety. As this game went on, Opie started to look more and more like the player we saw in October and November…strong, confident and resilient…fantastic game out of the kid.
“It was special for me”, Pavelec said afterwards. “It was a big game. We needed the points”.
Counting the game played in Ottawa on Halloween, Pavs has turned aside 80 of 82 shots taken on him in the last two games against the Senators…a .976 SV% in those two matches.
Atlanta played 54:59 of this game with only five defensemen as Christoph Schubert was given a game misconduct for boarding Jonathan Cheechoo at the 5:01 mark of the first period. Schubert had seen just 37 seconds of playing time before being sent off. The team did a great job killing off the five-minute all-you-can-score Ottawa power play that resulted in the major penalty…it was cut short by an Alex Kovalev slashing call with 1:42 remaining in the Sens’ man advantage.
Atlanta was successful on both PK situations and scored once on their five power play chances.
Captain Ilya Kovalchuk scored his 26th goal of the season and tossed in a pair of assists as well, finishing the game a +3 with 5 SOG. Pavel Kubina and Toby Enstrom provided scores from the blueline while Bryan Little’s blast from the right circle gave him his sixth goal of the season.
Ron Hainsey was a +4 with an assists during 24:13 TOI.
And how about that bout between Eric Boulton and Chris Neil, eh? The two went skate to skate and exchanged blow after blow before Bolts eventually took him to the ice. One of the better scraps so far this season.
This was as near of a complete games as we’ve seen from these guys in quite a while. Coach John Anderson apparently got these guys attention during the unscheduled practice Sunday morning…one that wasn’t exactly a happy time for his players. Hopefully, he can keep his players this focused for quite some time.
Ottawa came into the game with several key players out…captain Daniel Alfredsson is nursing an injured shoulder, Filip Kuba missed his second game with an Upper body injury and Milan Michalek missed his third with the same. Jason Spezza and Jesse Winchester are both out long-term with knee injuries.
But Anderson wasn’t losing any sleep over any of that. “I’ve got my own struggles. I don’t worry about Ottawa”, Anderson said.. “They are not spending too much time worrying about us”.
Nope…and I would imagine the Northeast Division-leading Buffalo Sabres aren’t spending any time fretting over Anderson’s team either. They’ll be making their way to Thrasherville Thursday night.