There are a lot of numbers and stats that one can choose to highlight from the Thrashers shutout of the Washington Capitals.
You could begin with the 5 goals scored by the Atlanta Thrashers Friday night, and the zero scored by the Caps…There’s also the 36 shots Atlanta took on the Capital’s goal while they in return launched 29 on us… Five different players scored for the Thrashers, nine players recorded at least a point while three had multi-point efforts…Three Thrashers finished a +3 for the game, Nik Antropov, Ben Eager and Alex Burmistrov… And seven finished with a +2 rating, Zach Bogosian, Dustin Byfuglien, Ron Hainsey, Evander Kane, Bryan Little, Johnny Oduya and Anthony Stewart.
It goes on and on…
But the number that stands out most for me following the 5-0 whacking of Washington is 60…as in 60 complete, solid, consistent minutes of tough, aggressive, hard-nosed, battle-‘til-the-end type of hockey put in by the home team. It was indeed their most complete game of the 2010-11 season.
I guess all it took was the head coach calling them out for “quitting” and naming Andrew Ladd team captain, eh?
Pavelec was very sharp between the pipes on this winning night, but much credit for this shutout must also be given to the skaters in front of him. Most of the shots Pavelec faced were not from close in, and when Pavs kicked one out into play there was a defender in great position to sweep the puck away from danger. Opie stopped all 29 Capitals shot he faced for his first shutout of the season and third in his NHL career and the defenders blocked another 18 shots fired by the Caps.
“The guys did a good job in front of me”, Pavelec told John Kincade after the game. “I always saw the first shot then they got it after that”.
Since coming on in relief for Chris Mason last Sunday, Pavelec has turned aside 76 of the 79 shots he’s faced in just under eight periods of play. That equates to a .962 SV% and 1.22 GAA during that stretch of time. And with the win Friday, his record improves to 2-4-2 with a shining 2.05 GAA and impressive .936 SV%.
Oh yeah…and one shutout now too.
Washington Capitals goals were not the only thing missing from this game. Also not to be seen were any of the e-GREEE-gious defensive zone mistakes that have plagued this Thrashers team for much of the season. From the drop of the puck to the final horn, attention to detail was given on each shift.
On the offensive side of the ice…the tone was set early on by a beardless Ben Eager. After executing a solid check along the offensive boards, Eager slid his way along the goal line to a position in front of Washington’s goal. Nik Antropov found his linemate there for the games first goal just 2:42 into the game.
It appears as though Eager and Antropov got the message coach Ramsay sent when their ice time was cut drastically last Wednesday during the 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers.
Later in the opening period, Antropov capitalized on a bobbled rebound by rookie Caps keeper Braden Holtby. Just 15 seconds later Evander Kane moved the puck around the back of the net, turned and snapped it through the goalie for his eighth goal of the season.
That was the fifth shot Holtby saw in the game…and it was also his last.
Dustin Byfuglien and Alex Burmistrov then dazzled the crowd with a pair of highlight reel goals to provide Atlanta’s fourth and fifth goals. Buff came with under a minute remaining in the second while Burmey’s zig-zag move capped the scoring at the 17:17 mark of the third.
Preceding Burmistrov’s nifty score was a full game’s worth of hard-working effort on both ends of the ice. There were numerous occasions where he hustled his butt through center ice to participate in defending would-be fast breaks and odd-man rushes.
I know, I know…the young 19-year old rookie simply hasn’t been around these parts long enough to know that this is not the kind of performance we’re accustomed to seeing from a Russian goal scoring forward wearing a Thrashers jersey. But like the rest of what I saw for 60 minutes on both ends of the ice Friday night … I could get used to it.