I missed the first part of the game night game due to an NJROTC booster club meeting. However, I was receiving text updates from our good friend FormerIslesFan…as I sat in the back of the classroom…behind a rather large fellow…out of sight from the person speaking up front.
Some lessons learned in school always stay with ya, eh?
Anyway…as I was sitting there glancing down at my cellular communication device, I saw his messages flashing the un-good news of how the first period had progressed. First came the text that the Thrashers had fallen behind 1-0… then 2-0. However, I have to admit that this news wasn’t met with the normal reaction I’ve had in the past after learning this team had fallen behind early.
You know…that “Oh my good lord these guys have taken the night off and they are just gonna drop a giant steamer on the ice tonight” kinda feeling.
Instead, the initial thought that entered my head was, “Hmmm, been quite a while since they had been in that predicament. Let’s see who they can battle back to make a game of it”.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I was necessarily thrilled that they had dug themselves an early hole. But I figured there was plenty of time to get things going…just had to shake that first-game-back-from-a-road-trip funk. And after all, the way these Thrashers have been playing lately, there really isn’t a sense of certain pending doom when they do actually fall behind. There’s absolutely no quit in these boys.
It was as if I was expecting good things to happen. Yes…expecting. And I just know I’m not the only one who felt that way.
When I made it to the car for the drive home…listening on the clear signal provided by 93.7 FM…Jimmy Slater had pulled them back to within one and the always welcome voice of Dan Kamal was describing a game that seemingly was turning in the favor of Atlanta. It sounded more like the Thrashers we’ve come to know and love recently.
I got home in time to see the third period in its entirety. What I witnessed was a Thrashers team continuing to do the things it has done lately to put themselves in a position to win. They were putting a great deal of pressure on the Preds in their end of the ice and attacking Anders Lindback’s goal furiously. They were banging Nashville players against the boards and winning battles all over the ice. They were controlling the puck in the offensive zone and limiting their opponent’s time in the defensive zone. Nice, clean passes were well received and mistakes were cut back to a minimum.
The hard work paid off when Nik Bergfors drew a boarding call that sent Shea Weber to the sin bin at the 6:44 mark of the third. Five ticks of the clock later, Andrew Ladd swatted home a rebound to tie the score at 2-2. It was goal number 10 for the Thrashers captain and his fourth tally while on the man advantage. The third one came just last Saturday in Washington.
Both Ladd’s and Slater’s goals came as a direct result of faceoff wins. On the night, Atlanta won 36 puck-drops to Nashville’s 15. This is part of the little things done that add up to big wins.
“The second period set us up for the third period”, captain Ladd said afterwards. “We were playing with confidence. We were playing smarter. We were winning battles we didn’t win in the first period”.
The comeback was then completed in overtime when Zach Bogosian blasted a shot past Lindback after Ben Eager fed him the puck from the left boards. Eager had won the puck from between the skates of a Preds player who had lost his stick.
As for Bogey’s clumsy celebration…well, I think he summed it up best by saying, “It’s only my second goal of the season, so I need to work on that a bit”.
The Thrasher are now enjoying an 8 wins in 9 games run…including six consecutive at home. The last time the fans of Thrasherville were sent home disappointed was back on November 17 when they fell 2-1 to the Florida Panthers.
Ondrej Pavelec was again solid between the pipes for Atlanta, just as we are now coming to expect from him. He flashed the leather…he kicked out shots…he even managed a snow angel to keep the puck out of the net in the third. Opie stopped 27 of 29 for the win to improve his record to 9-5-2 with a .1.71 GAA and .947 SV%.
Yes, this is a different kind of Thrashers team…one we’ve waited for over a decade to witness. They are playing the type of hockey right now that has fans expecting…not simply hoping, but expecting… that good things will come from them. They fight, they work, they hustle, they grind, they skate, they battle, they hit, they endure, they attack, they defend, they support one another… and most importantly, they win.
One thing else these Thrashers do…they do deserve our support. So get you butts to Blueland and expect to see some good hockey.
See you Friday.