Captain Kovalchuk Rights Ship as Thrashers Weather Hurricanes Surge

Some might say the Thrashers shouldn’t have even been in the situation they found themselves in…the score tied 3-3 with just over nine minutes elapsed in the third period. They had come out of the locker room up 3-1, thanks greatly to some fine goaltending from Ondrej Pavelec, solid defensive work and goals from Zach Bogosian, Jim Slater and Rich Peverley.

But Rich Peverley took a questionable slashing call at the 6:06 mark…Darin Elliot called it a “marginal” call, I call it a load of male bovine excretion. Then, exactly one minute into killing off the Carolina man-advantage, Boris Valabik was tagged with roughing call to put them down by two men. It was one of those plays where the defender took exception to an attacker’s extra swipe or two as the goalie was covering up the puck, stepping in to push the player out. In this instance, it was Eric Stall…who didn’t much care for the way he was treated by Boris.

Ilya Kovalchuk celebrates game-winning goal against the Canes (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

Ilya Kovalchuk celebrates game-winning goal against the Canes (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

Glances were given…words were exchanged…feeling were hurt…a few soft punched were swung…but only Boris took a seat. I could see sending both off, even neither of them…but the Thrashers found themselves having to kill off a 5 on 3 nonetheless.

And with that…the Hurricane watch was on.

Pavelec made a couple outstanding saves to help get Atlanta within 3 ticks of the clock from successfully getting Peverley back on the ice with no damage done… but Jussi Jokinen’s score pulled the Canes to within one.

Three seconds after the Thrashers then killed off Valabik’s minor, Ray Whitney tied the game.

And with that, the Hurricane watch became a full-fledged Hurricane warning and the U.S.S. Thrashers…whose hull has been labeled “fragile” previously… was adrift in the storm, taking on water and listing to port.

But that’s when the captain Ilya Kovalchuk stepped up in the bridge, took the wheel and righted the vessel he has been commissioned to command.

Less than a minute after the game-tying goal, Kovy took control of the puck near the blueline, moved left to right and snapped it past Cam Ward to give his team back their lead. In doing so, he righted the ship and set it back on course.

Later, during the dying seconds of the game, he directed the puck from the neutral zone back into the Cane’s end of the ice then dished it off to Nik Antropov…allowing him to notch the game-sealing empty-netter.

Ondrej Pavelec stops Eric Staal's penalty shot. It kept the game tied at 1-1 in the second period (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

Ondrej Pavelec stops Eric Staal's penalty shot. It kept the game tied at 1-1 in the second period (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

The third period tempest wasn’t the first storm the Thrashers had to weather in this game that had more twists and turns than a western Carolina mountain county road. In the second period, with the score knotted at one, Pavelec was forced to face an Eric Staal penalty shot…one that was awarded after the Carolina center was slashed by Slava Kozlov during a breakaway. Opie saved the shot Stall was able to get away despite the infraction…but the penalty shot was called regardless.

Turns out it didn’t matter as Eric was denied once again by Opie.

Had Staal been successful on that or the original shot, Carolina would have taken a lead and, even though the Thrashers had outplayed Carolina to that point, the momentum would have clearly swung in the Canes direction.

“It was 1-1, and if they score a goal, it could be tough”, Pavelec said afterwards. “He tried to shoot it 5-hole, and it hit my stick. It was a big save”.

For the night, Pavelec saved 29 of 32 shots. This comes after turning away 30 of Buffalo’s 32 attempts last Thursday and 30 of Ottawa’s 31 on Tuesday. For the week, Opie was 2-0-1 with a .937 SV% and 1.98 GAA.

The 5-3 win improves his overall record to 11-12-4 with a 3.47 GAA and .904 SV%.

Zach Bogosian scored his first goal since the 3-2 win against Edmonton back on November 15.

Rich Peverley notched his 14th of the year and only his second in the past fourteen games.

Zach Bogosian and Bryan Little celebrate with their captain after his goal righted the team's ship (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

Zach Bogosian and Bryan Little celebrate with their captain after his goal righted the team's ship (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

Just 72 seconds before the Peever’s goal, Jim Slater put the Thrashers up 2-1. For Slates, it was goal number 5 on the season and fourth in six games. During that stretch, dating back to the 5-2 loss in Pittsburgh a week and a half ago, Slater has 4 goals, 2 assists and is a +3.

Methinks Todd White has just been “Slater-ed” to a full-time seat in the press box.

Ten of the Thrashers skaters got on the scoreboard with a goal and/or assists. Kovalchuk, Slater, Antropov, Bogosian and Peverley each had multi point efforts. Fourteen finished with a Positive +/- rating…Bogosian leading the way with a +4.

“You have to have four lines to win”, coach Anderson said. “You can’t just have one line that goes out there to kill time. When the lines are set up that way, everyone has to contribute. It’s working out good so far”.

Marty Reasoner and Chris Thorburn were EVEN while Christoph Schubert and Valaik were each a –1.

The Thrashers are now 21-19-7 and the 49 points keep them in second place in the Southeast Division ahead of Florida’s 48 and Tampa Bay’s 46. They are in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, tied with the tenth-place Flyers who have played one less game. The pair trails Montreal and the Islanders by two point and the seventh-place Rangers by two. Ottawa sits in sixth place in the conference with 52 points.

And finally…the 5-3 win in Carolina was the first regulation road win for the Thrashers since November 27 when they defeated Carolina 6-4 behind a five-goal third period.

104 comments Add your comment

R. Stroz

January 17th, 2010
12:32 am


World Be Free

January 17th, 2010
12:38 am

Is that Captain Kovalchuk rights ship of the Thrashers ship Captain Kovalchuk’s rights?

Damn Stroz, beat me again!

R. Stroz

January 17th, 2010
1:09 am

After watching the replay of the game, I’m convinced John Anderson believed the refs name is WTF.

Joe B

January 17th, 2010
1:26 am

Even the refs couldn’t win this for the Canes!


January 17th, 2010
1:29 am

Excellent game tonight. Those penalties at the end were bull excrement. I thought Anderson’s face was gonna bust some capillaries.Fortunately our captain was able to answer the call and squash their momentum. You could tell from the moment we took the first faceoff that we were there to play.

I thought the team played with a healthy dose of physical play. I love Kane tripping that dude after he was pushed…just quick thinking on his part…really pissed that dude off to. Love it!

Boris actually looks like he might become a good d-man. He made some solid passes and didn’t panic.

Yes…Slater in…White out. Slater is playing the way coach wants him to play and has grit that White doesn’t. Big props to Jimmy for staying strong and on top of his game during his bench time.


January 17th, 2010
2:23 am

once again Doris shows why he should be in the press box….great win! Nice way to fight back from a tie game where it could have easily gone the other way…2 points is what was needed :)

Alan R.

January 17th, 2010
5:04 am

Still trying to figure out who exactly Doris is.


January 17th, 2010
7:28 am

Boris played a SOLID game last night… The call was BS, either both for roughing or nothing, Boris has played fairly solid since he has returned… Better him than Aussie !

The “slashing” call was quite bogus as well, I really wonder if these
ref’s ever get called on the carpet or suspended for bad games ?
Last night’s crew stunk, two blantant tripping calls on our guys went
uncalled on Carolina, over all good solid road game for a change despite very very questionable calls !

Putting On The Foil

January 17th, 2010
7:52 am

Agree that Boris played a very SOLID game. Boris has played a very controlled game this year and as one who was skeptical about his potential, I have to give him props. Agree with Anderson last night on the calls. WTF! WTF! WTF!, etc


January 17th, 2010
8:34 am

We all laughed too reading Anderson’s WTF comments. Boris’s overall play was pretty solid. However, he needs to control his emotions a bit. Letting Staal goad him into that penalty was un-good.

World Be Free

January 17th, 2010
9:07 am

Refs were bad Thursday and Saturday. Most of them are the NEW refs, with all the good ones retiring!

LAC-gotta agree with you on Boris/Doris. He’s a serviceable defenseman if he plays within his game.

R. Stroz

January 17th, 2010
9:28 am

Are the news refs form the NBA where they bet on the game?

Red Light

January 17th, 2010
9:30 am

What, no Bogo sucks and needs to sit rants yet? What, no Pavelec is a sieve comments so far? What, no JA is an idiot and doesn’t know what he’s doing diatribes this morning? Amazing what a win and solid hockey for a few nights will do for this blog! Looks like we’ll all just have to pile on White until someone else screws the pooch.

Lose a two-goal lead and respond; the team is beginning to show signs of the one we watched in early and late November. Although in 11th, ATL is just six points out of 5th place in the conference. It would be nice to get six points this week against Fla, Tor, Car and TB. I say they’ll do it.



January 17th, 2010
9:36 am

Let the countdown to captain kovalchuk’s depature begin!

After that, the fate of the Thrashers will be sealed: “Hello Winnipeg!”


January 17th, 2010
9:56 am

Red Light, here’s my Hainsey sucks diatribe: his play leading to the penalty shot at 1:1 is unacceptable. This dude is paid well too hansome to put the team – which, let’s face it, is still on life support as it is – in this kind of trouble.


January 17th, 2010
10:24 am

rhett- The team is not going anywhere anytime soon


January 17th, 2010
10:26 am

Bill, you said “load of male bovine excretion” but I think you meant “load of male equine excretion”. Frankly, either way, I agree.

The Thrashers certainly deserved to win this game. They dominated the play, except for the referee-inspired 5-on-3. We really only had 1 defensive breakdown; where Jokenin split our defense. Other than that, we played a solid game, both offensively & defensively. We got something we’ve been lacking for a month; secondary scoring. When guys not named Kovalchuk, Afiniginov or Peverley knock ‘em in consistantly, we’re going to win consistantly.

And I gotta agree, Boris played the best game I’ve ever seen him play. And he actually went after another player, without losing his balance!

All of a sudden, Pavelic is playing like the kid in October who wanted to win a job. Could this have anything to do with Kari getting healthy? Hmmmm, just asking.

Mr. Heat Miser

January 17th, 2010
10:28 am

I guess the officiating crew was bribed by BBQ……They do have great BBQ up there


January 17th, 2010
10:30 am

That was an absolute imbecile play by Valabik in the third period when his team is a man short. He ought to sit for couple of weeks and see if he can locate his brain.

Hockey Biltong

January 17th, 2010
10:37 am

Bullsh!t or horse-sh!t, it was a poorly called game.
Let’s see if we can treat Florida to a similar outcome.


January 17th, 2010
10:52 am

Valabik should never have been sent off in that situation – not without Staal being tossed either. In fact, Kane was roughed up a few times after the whistle and nowhere close to Ward, with no penalty on Carolina called. This was shameful officiating.


January 17th, 2010
11:02 am

Stroz- You caught Anderson dropping the F bomb, too, huh? I think that’s the third or fourth time I’ve seen it this season. There was at least one other WTF, and an F me that I saw. I wish I had them all recorded. I was thinking of making a montage.


January 17th, 2010
11:03 am

I don’t know how they always manage to get a close up of him while he’s in the middle of it, but I think it’s hilarious.


January 17th, 2010
11:19 am

I will admit that my level of concern became awfully twitchy when the ‘Canes tied the game at 3-3 on 2 goals scored just over a minute apart. Although our guys fought admirably on both the 5 on 3 and the remaining 5 on 4 penalty kills, I was scared that we would see a resurgence of our Thrashwers with their tails between their legs when that last goal tied the game. I knew from the first faceoff after that goal though that my fears were ungrounded. Our play got physical…quick. I think every Thrasher on the ice hit somebody and hit them hard in the brief moments before Kovy took control and gave us the lead back. you could see just how determined and just how fired up each one of our guys were, and it paid off.

Last week, my heart was just hurting for our poor, beaten-down Thrashers. This week though, they have started playing again like somebody lit a fire under their butts, and I am now beginning to feel the hope surge back again. These boys have got the talent – they have just got to keep playing with the belief that they can take down anybody who steps onto the ice with them. Because they can.


January 17th, 2010
11:27 am

I wish the game was reffed like it was in the late 70’s and 80’s. When a trip and a slash were for real not this WTF crap. Were is Andy Van-Helamen Reffing style when you need it. Sorry he is retired. The soccer refs in the professional leagues don’t put up with BS they just let them play until someone gets mugged. The Hockey games are so much better when the refs let them play.


January 17th, 2010
11:35 am

Just glad this game did not go into OT. We have a legitimate chance at going into the playoffs. All we need to do is to establish some kind of winning streak till the Olympic break. Then, we have to hope to have another winning streak and we are in. Just get out of the logjam and we should make it.

World Be Free

January 17th, 2010
11:42 am

Scares me that WBF and WTF look so much alike.


January 17th, 2010
11:47 am

It would be good to see another nice run by the Thrash similar to last year’s run from January to the end of the season. Could one of our statiticians figure out where we would end up this year with a similar finish as last year?


January 17th, 2010
11:59 am

As each day passes by, and each game has been played, the stakes for points grow higher, like a hot hand of poker. We cannot “undo” that 1-7-3 stretch of season. Remember when we were six (6) games over .500? We let that slip away. And the only way to remedy it … is to finish 10-12 over .500, by season’s end. Look at the standings. Do you realize that a clip that is? This team needs to go 6-2-2 in each 10 game segment over these last 30 or so games. That’s the reality of the situation. If Kovalchuk wants to help this team, he’d just sign at a reasonable rate, so that the team could put pieces around him.

If you fire Don Waddell me and all my friends will buy season tickets

January 17th, 2010
12:13 pm

Agree with Midfield. Hainsey (Mr. -2) is not a strong player at all. He was a loser at Columbus; it’s lost on me what he has brought to this team. Another junker for the DWaddell D-Man scrap heap (Klee, De Vries, Exelby, Sutton). Can’t blame this refuse on the Atlanta Spirit either, boys.


January 17th, 2010
12:24 pm

35 games left, of which 19 are at home so a playoff berth is within reach. Plus, we play TOR 3 more times, CAR 4 more times, FLA 3 more times and TBL 3 more times. Also, we’ve got 1 more gm each vs NYR, OTT and NYI. Lastly, we play the Flyers 3 more times as well.

In other words, with 19 games out of 35 against teams below or near us in the standings. Win 14 or 15 of those games and you really move up in the standings. Find a way to win 6 or 7 of the other 16 games and we are right in the thick of things.

I think it will be a matter of who and when as well as how many. The last 5 gms are against WSH, PITT and NJ so we need to win 20 or so of the next 30 to make this happen.

Like Brendan said, 6-2-2 over the next three 10 game stretches puts us in the hunt at the end. But I would prefer a couple of 7-1-2 stretches in there with those brutal 5 games at the end.


January 17th, 2010
12:25 pm

Maybe Kovalchuk is close to signing. This is the first time I’ve seen him act like a Captain.


January 17th, 2010
12:26 pm

Great game last night! The refs were so horrible! Whenever Carolina committed a penalty they wouldn’t call it, except like once. They called so many penaltys on us. Oh, ya, that penalty shot shouldn’t have ever even been called, he nicked him, but he didn’t trip him. I could read John Anderson’s lips. haha.

Kovy had quite a celebration there! Good to see some emotions out of him though


January 17th, 2010
12:44 pm

Not if you listen to the latest BS from Eklund, Curly…

He says that he’s hearing that Kovy doesn’t really want to sign an extension yet. I believe there’s very little substantiated information to most things that Eklund says. However, I have often wondered if Waddell is simply posturing to make Kovy as valuable as possible. Maybe DW and JA have conceded that this team is not quite ready for a serious push.

Maybe, they recognize that this team could be in playoff contention, but there is no way they can compete with the likes of Washington, Pittsburgh, or Buffalo to reach the finals. Maybe, with a gentleman’s agreement in place, DW will send Kovy off as a rental to get some more pieces to allow the team to run with the big dogs next year, after Kovy re-signs this summer. The right return on Kovy could make the Thrashers serious contenders next year. Is it a gamble…certainly, but it could pay off in a huge way for the organ-eyes-a-shun.

Great game last night boys! Keep it up!


January 17th, 2010
12:50 pm

It would be good to see another nice run by the Thrash similar to last year’s run from January to the end of the season. Could one of our statiticians figure out where we would end up this year with a similar finish as last year?

Smitty – Interesting you would ask that kinda question…given I’m sitting here watching Groundhogs Day. So…here’s the scoop on that.

Atlanta has played 47 games so far and have a record of 21-19-7 for 49 points. This means they have 35 games left to play. Last year, in the last 35 games of the season, they played to a record of 18-16-1. If they simply do that again, they would end up with a record of 39-35-8 for 86 points.


January 17th, 2010
1:01 pm

zach did ok on offense, but was wandering as usual on defense…


January 17th, 2010
1:04 pm

Vlabik played a solid game and it was nice to see Bogo hustling for a change. Opie made a few great saves but Kozlov seems to be destined for the milk carton. Where is his head? His wheels left him a few years ago. Can anyone be slower than Armstrong? Good win.


January 17th, 2010
2:17 pm

Just think WBF if Lloyd Free had changed his name to World Totally Free you would WTF. Just saying…………

World Be Free

January 17th, 2010
2:40 pm

DWTOO- too funny! Glad Lloyd stopped when he did.

Bogo is 19-he’s not going to mature playing with Hainsey or any other defenseman on the Thrasher’s roster.

Glad Kovy finally played again like the player we witnessed last season.

Tony C.

January 17th, 2010
2:49 pm

Mr. T-Any chance you could get Viv to pick Coach’s brain on who he’s eyeing to call-up from Chicago?

A thought regarding everybody’s reaction to the “officiating” ATL experiences (a lot more regularly nowadays it seems):

Last night, #17 was tripped and slid on the ice looking at the ref expecting the call (I believe #17 was correct, and a tripping/interference call was warranted) which he did not get.
A period later, Valabik was sent off for “roughing” Eric Staal who (in my eyes) was equally guilty of “roughing” (seriously I wouldn’t have called anything-but I would’ve had a word with both players if I was calling the game)-this time Staal gets the call.

What was/is the difference?

Carolina won The Cup and Staal is the linchpin of that win. Staal is a “good hardworking Canadian boy”

Atlanta has been hamstrung by inept management and ownership. Kovalchuk is perceived as a “One-dimensional prima donna”

Shut up and put your head down and skate-you might win something, and THEN you will get the call.

This whole team seems guilty of giving the refs too much credit-don’t play for the call, play to win the game! Because, if history is any indicator ATL will be called for at least ONE “Non-Traditional Market” call a game. If you know they (the refs) are gunning for you, why on earth would you think they’re going to give you a call?


January 17th, 2010
3:00 pm

Tony C. – I can certainly pass that along to C-Viv. Now, a question back at you…and all else…who would you like to see called up? Also, given the current roster here being maxed out, who do you want to see sent down to the Chi-Wolves…or waived…in order to make room for them?

R. Stroz

January 17th, 2010
3:13 pm

I wish I had them all recorded. I was thinking of making a montage.

Jameson – As the season has progressed, Anderson has gone from shaking his head to rolling his eyes to hollering WTF. Within the next few months, he’ll turn into Torts.

The Real Thrash

January 17th, 2010
3:28 pm

Where are the idiots saying we should let Kovy go?


January 17th, 2010
3:41 pm

Tony, the game should not be officiated based on players’ resume. We don’t need to have play-offs. Let’s have just have a referendum. By the way, Crosby was getting his way even before he won the Cup, just because Bettman nominated him the face of the league.

Red Light

January 17th, 2010
3:59 pm

There is absolutely no one I would call up at this point. There is way too much uncertainty as to whether or not anyone else could help at this point, which is a year-to-year problem with this franchise. Chicago isn’t the answer unless you’re talking about the Blackhawks.


January 17th, 2010
5:01 pm

“I wish I had them all recorded. I was thinking of making a montage.

Jameson – As the season has progressed, Anderson has gone from shaking his head to rolling his eyes to hollering WTF. Within the next few months, he’ll turn into Torts.”

After he turns in to Torts it’ll be a spinning head puking green stuff. Call in The Exorcist. (Cue Tubular Bells)


January 17th, 2010
5:07 pm

Where are the idiots saying we should let Kovy go?

Umm… They should let Kovy go. It has nothing to do with talent.

If Eklunds assumptions are correct, they should trade him. Kovy “doesn’t want to be traded” but wants to see how the rest of the year goes before committing to an extension? Sounds a lot like Hossa.

Furthermore, it sounds like a reverse Nikulin, where Kovy will use the KHL as leverage to get max salary from Atlanta or any other NHL team.

Don’t play this game Don, let him go and stay away from Euro’s.


January 17th, 2010
5:10 pm

In summary… The deal gets done now or never. Do NOT let this go to July 1, it gets worse this summer.

Miami Screaming Eagle

January 17th, 2010
5:13 pm

Kovy is just auditioning for his next employer. He’s probably been told he will be dealt soon and he can start playing at 100% again, now that he’s getting out of hockey hell.

I do not respect Hossa, but you can’t blame him wanting to get away from this ownership and management group. Why would any player in the prime of their careers want to play for a team so poorly managed from top to bottom.

The hockey fans of this city do not deserve an ownership group who is not committed to winning hockey games. They are only committed to winning basketball games. Just look at the player posters in the arena. Big posters of Hawks’ players, with little recognition of the existence of a hockey team.

It all starts at the top.


January 17th, 2010
5:34 pm

Since thy are 3-1-1 in their last 5, why would you call anyone up? If they were going to call someone up, it should have been done somewhere during the 1-7-2 stretch. I think JA just kept hoping they would turn it around. Did he wait too late? We will know at the end of the year. JA might have wanted to call someone else, but Don and ASG said “no”. And where is Dudley??? Dont hear anything from him. Is that the way it is with the other NHL teams?? Asst. GM’s keep low key? Also, JA has been dropping those WTF’s all year long. I’ve watched 42 of the 47 games played on TV. He says WTF a lot.