Ok, so tell me…what is it with the Atlanta Thrashers and Buffalo Sabres having to play every game into overtime? Thursday night’s contest was …what…the seventh time in the last eigh games that the two have needed more than 60 minutes to decide things?
Let’s see…the two of the three times so far this season, then all four last year and the last meeting of the 2007-08 season that the Thrashers won 5-4 in a shootout. And before that, then the last time the Thrashers and Sabres played a game that did not go into overtime was, if I’m not mistaken, back in January of 2008 when…oh yea, that was the 10-1 beat-down in Buffalo.
Ok…I’m fine with OT, then.
Thursday night’s 2-1 loss in overtime was disappointing, obviously…but I have to say it’s one of the best-played, most entertaining hockey games I’ve been to all season. The Thrashers played a lot of minutes in Buffalo’s zone… they kept the tempo and pressure up all night… the defense had a solid outing, holding the opposition to just 13 shots in the first 40 minutes of play and 26 during regulation.
But as well as the Thrashers played against a very good Sabres team, and as welcome any points are in the standings, seeing Buffalo skate away with that second point is a giant suck-burger. Just ask John Anderson.
“If you look at the two teams and who could afford [to lose] the [extra] point most, it wasn’t us,” Anderson said after the game. “We need every point we can get right now. It would have been great, but you are really pushing the envelope when you are short-handed that long”.
Ondrej Pavelec was really on his game for much of the night…continuing from the fine outing last Tuesday against Ottawa. He stopped 30 of the 32 shots he faced on this night after turning aside 30 of 31 in the 6-1 win over the Senators.
That’s 60 saves on the last 63 shots he’s faced. Nice to see the kid back on top his game.
On the other side of the ice was that Ryan Miller character. In case you haven’t heard, this guy is good great fantastic awesome. All he did was deny the Thrashers 32 times on 33 shots. He didn’t have to face any during overtime, as the Sabres pretty much played the entire two and a half minutes of extra time killing off penalties.
I tell ya what, I can’t wait until next month during the Winter Olympics when I can actually root for this guy as he mans the nets for team USA. If we are going to medal during these games, he and Tim Thomas are going to be the main reasons why.
Both squads did a good job killing penalties…each team being successful 6 times on 7 PK situations. As stated above, it was an overtime 4 on 3 power play goal that won it for Buffalo, Derek Roy with the honors. Ilya Kovalchuk scored Atlanta’s goal while on the man advantage during the second period. His wrister from the left side tied the game with 3:18 left in the second while Chris Butler sat in shame in the sin-bin for high sticking.
The only 5 on 5 goal was scored earlier in the second period when Pavelec was unable to move quickly enough from the right to left post to deal with Patrick Kaleta’s shot. Kaleta was left all alone over on that side and put the puck up high as Opie went down to the ice on his attempt to get over in time.
With the outcome, Atlanta finished up the homestand 2-1-1. Outside of that steaming pile that was left out on the ice last Saturday against the Capitals, they played well for the most part this past week. Two wins over teams we are jockeying with for position in the Eastern Conference and an overtime charity point against a Sabres team that is now 29-11-5.
The Thrashers now head to Carolina for a Saturday game and then make their way to south Florida to play the panthers Monday night before returning to Thrasherville for ames against Toronto and the Canes next week.