Good morning Thrasherville! Here are just a couple quick notes and thoughts regarding the Thrashers, the loss to Pittsburgh and this afternoon’s matchup in Washington D.C.
First off…if you cast your vote for Brent Sopel to be the last Thrasher off of Schnide Island, pick again. His blast at 2:41 of the first period gave Atlanta an early 1-0 over the Penguins, and came just 20 ticks of the clock after Chris Thorburn and Michael Rupp were put in a 2-minute time out for not playing nicely with each other.
Shortly after Sopes slipped off The Schnide, Dustin Byfuglien came painfully close to putting the home team up 2-0, taking a Rich Peverley pass from the left wing and snapping off a shot from close in. But Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made a great play moving to his left to get his skate out to block the shot. It was the first of several very good save he made to keep the Pens within one goal…including one against Andrew Ladd, who was able to find himself alone in front of Fleury after turning Kris Letang inside-out in the left wing face off circle.
As it turns out, it was just what they needed.
After the Thrashers outshot Pittsburgh 7-1 in the first four minutes of the game, the Penguins slowly began to turn things in their favor and Ondrej Pavelec was then called upon more often to try and continue his work of late.
Then in the mid to late stages of the second period, Pittsburgh turned the physicality knob up to 11 and started hitting anything that moved on the ice. It lead to Evgeni Malkin’s first of three goals, which came with 6:28 left before the second intermission…a quick snapper that went five-hole on Pavelec.
Malkin then scored twice in the third period for the hat trick…the fourth that Atlanta has surrendered to an opposing player so far this season. His second goal came while Pittsburgh was on the power play. He redirected a ricochet off the boards behind the net past Pavelec and then potted an empty netter to provide the 4-2 final score.
Sidney Crosby had deflected in a Deryk Engelland shot to tie the game at 1-1 less then three minutes into the final period.
On both goals in the second period, Malkin’s power play one and Crosby’s game-tying tally, Zach Bogosian was…er, uh, well…let’s just say he was “in the vicinity” of defending against the goal-scorers.
After the game, Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay gave high praise to the Penguins scorers say, “They’re not both just talented they’re strong. Malkin is a monster and Crosby is as strong on the puck as there is”.
Pavelec echoed those thoughts. “Those guys don’t need many chances to score goals,” the young netminder said. “They may be the best players in the NHL”.
“It’s tough to play them for 60 minutes, but if we want to make the playoffs, we need to shut down those guys”.
As for the game itself…I thought it was an overall good effort by the Thrashers, they came out with a great deal of jump and life in their game. But the Penguins simply took this game over halfway through and grinded the win.
Now, the Thrashers wing their way to D.C. for the third matchup this fall against the defending Southeast Division champs. That’s a tough way to rebound against a hard loss, if you ask me. But Atlanta has found a measure of success against the Caps, earning 3 of a possible 4 points against the division foe in the previous two meetings.
Evander Kane has scored four of his seven goals against Washington, 2 in the 4-2 season-opening win and another pair in the 4-3 overtime loss on October 23.
Chris Mason is expected to get today’s start in goal for the Thrashers. He is coming off the 5-2 loss in Ottawa last Tuesday and is 4-0-1 against the Caps in his career with a 2.25 GAA and .924 SV% in six games played against them.
The Capitals find themselves once again atop the division standings. Their 25 points are 8 more than Atlanta and 7 more than second place Tampa Bay.
Alex Ovechkin leads their overall scoring with 23 points…9 goals and 14 points…while Alexander Semin’s12 goals are the most for that team. As with Malkin, Semin is one of four players to get the hats flying against the Thrashers. Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos and St. Louis’ Jay McClement are the other two.