“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”
That was from my entry yesterday, opining that if the Atlanta Thrashers were to secure two points from the San Jose Sharks, Chris Mason would need to come up big…stealing one for the team. And indeed that is exactly what he did Saturday night, stopping 37 of 39 shots as the Thrashers hooked the Sharks 4-2.
It was Atlanta’s first ever victory in San Jose and only the second time in their history that they’ve landed the Sharks. The last time was a 3-2 win back on November 13, of 2002 at Philips Arena.
But it didn’t come easy. After Mason and the Thrashers fell behind 2-0 late in the first period…one of those coming on a 5 on 3 power play…Mason then did to the Sharks what Debbie Hesslefielder did to me all throughout the 11th grade. Completely and totally turned them away…time after time.
San Jose peppered Atlanta’s goalie with 18 shots in the second period, but to no avail. And because Mason built the brick wall in front of his net, he gave his skaters the time needed to get themselves on track. By the time the second intermission rolled around, the score was tied at two.
Andrew Ladd was first to tickle the twine behind Sharks netminder Antti Niemi, his teammate in Chicago last season. Ladd tapped home a rebound from Bryan Little’s spin-around shot for a short-handed goal just 83 seconds into the second period. Twelve and a half minutes later it was Anthony Stewart…yes, him again…blasting home a shot from the right side. Ladd and Little were credited with assisting on Stewey’s game-tying tally.
“He’s one of those guys that if you get him the puck in the right spot, he’s got a real heavy shot and can find the back of the net”, Ladd said of Stewart after the game. “It’s been fun to watch him the last couple games.”
Stewart now leads the team in goals scored with 4. But who among us just didn’t see that coming…right? Ladd’s five points, 2 goals and 3 assists, tops Atlanta’s stat sheet for overall points.
Then in the third period, the Thrashers came out of the locker room with a freshly opened can of “Jump” in their britches. After being outshot 30-13 in the first forty minutes of play, the players in the white jerseys attacked and swarmed the Sharks goal like frat boys to a beer keg.
Atlanta outshot San Jose 15-9 in that final frame, scored twice and blew the Sharks clear out of the water.
And again, it was a former teammate of Niemi’s that got a puck past him. This time it was forwarddefenseman Dustin Byfuglien who snapped home a power play goal from between the circles. It was Buff’s first goal as a Thrasher and it gave his new team a 3-2 lead they would not relinquish.
Taking the skate of shame just afterwards was former Thrasher Dany Heatley. He had earned a seat of honor in the sin bin with just over seven minutes remaining in regulation for interfering Alex Burmistrov’s progress down the ice.
Byfuglien’s power lay goal was the team’s fourth such man advantage goal in the last two games on seven chances. In the first three games of the season the Thrashers had converted only one power play chance on 14 opportunities.
Evander Kane finished off the scoring at the 15:51 mark of the third when he directed home a pass from Rich Peverley. Kane, like Chris Thorburn, has three goals now on this young season. Evander’s quite a player…but clearly, he’s no Anthony Stewart.
The win caps off a three game west coast swing and a four game road trip. After dropping the first two…then falling behind 4-2 in the third period of Friday night’s game in Anaheim…they found a way to still win the finaly two and come home with four points tucked in their hip pocket.
Waiting for them Wednesday night will be the Buffalo Sabres…and I’m quite sure the normal large contingent of some of the NHL’s most respectful, polite, decent, mature, courteous and well-mannered fans that the league has to offer.