OK…when Red Light offered up his contest to guess which Thrasher would notch the team’s next hat trick, how many of you even thought about offering up the name Anthony Stewart?
…looking around the blogosphere…
Uh-huh, I didn’t think so.
But that’s exactly what happened Friday night in the Thrashers’ 5-4 shootout win in Anaheim. Anthony Stewart…in the Duck pond…with a hockey stick. We certainly had no Clue that was going to be the result, huh?
By potting three tallies, Stewey now finds himself tied for the goal-lead with that superhuman scoring machine…Chris Thorburn. Yes, that’s right, Thorburn and Stewart are atop the team’s goal chart with three each and have netted half of Atlanta’s season total of 12 scored during actual play. (They have 13 counting the shootout gimmick goal).
Andrew Ladd and Toby Enstrom each have 3 overall points as well, both scoring once and adding a pair of assists.
Two of Stewart’s goals came while the Thrashers were on the power play, both with less than 10 minutes remaining in the third t pull Atlanta from a 4-2 deficit to a 4-4 tie. On the night they converted three man advantage opportunities, Thorburn’s second period tip in of a Dustin Byfuglien blast tied the score at 2-2. Buff also provided the assist on the goal that leveled the score at 4 each with 5:12 remaining.
They were Dustin’s first two points in a Thrashers’ uniform.
Nigel Dawes then coverted in the fourth round of the shootout to give the Thrashers the extra point for the night’s work. His was the only goal scored in the individual skills exhibition. Chris Mason was not beaten on the Ducks’ four tries.
Tonight the Thrashers will find their way to San Jose for a date with the Sharks, who are 1-0-1 after opening the season with a pair of games in Sweden against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Now that they’ve traveled half a world back home, the Sharks will welcome in Atlanta for their home opener…the third such time Atlanta has played that role during this road trip. They beat the Jackets 3-2 and then lost by the same score in overtime.
A win would level the Thrashers record on the four-game roadie and make this west coast swing a successful one.
But if history is any indicator, success here won’t come easy. The last time the Thrashers have gained even a point from San Jose, however, was back in November of 2003 when the two sides skated to a 2-2 draw. Since then, the Sharks have bitten off five consecutive wins, outscoring Atlanta 22-10. Overall, the Thrashers are 1-9-2 when facing San Jose, 0-5-1 when playing in their barn.
According to the AP report I’ve read, Antti Niemi is scheduled to make the start tonight…meaning we’ll escape facing Thrasher-basher Antero Nittymaki, who is 17-0-0 against Atlanta with a 1.76 GAA, .940 SV% and 1 shutout.
Looking to get things going in the bay area are a few players from Thrasherville. Bryan Little, Rich Peverley and Nik Antropov are the notable players yet to score any goals this season, each producing but 1 assist each so far. Rookie Alex Burmistrov is yet to etch his first career NHL point, but he’s played very well with Thorburn and Ben Eager, by far the most productive line for the team after four games.
Chris Mason is yet to really “steal” a game for us, allowing 13 goals on 142 shots, (.908 SV%). But if coach Craig Ramsay looks to skate the veteran back out there between the pipes, he may need to do just that if the Thrashers are to win their first game against the Sharks since a 3-2 victory eight years ago.
His skaters in front of him will have to start living up to the expectations that the team defense would be improved this season. After giving up 41 shots in Anaheim, they now have a SA/G average of 35.8. Only Carolina, Phoenix, Colorado and Anaheim have higher shots against averages.
The game tonight is scheduled to be on Center Ice…Comcast channel 783. But we’ll see if the geniuses that determine which games are blacked out deny us the chance to see it like they did Friday night.
Seriously, I understand it if the game is played here in Atlanta…but a game played on the west coast that is being aired on Center Ice should not be blocked back here. (DUH5).