In my pre-game post yesterday, I mentioned how many of the Thrashers probably wanted to take the Marian Hossa and Dany Heatley route and get the heck out of
Dodge, Atlanta. But after watching the game on Wednesday night, it appeared that a few of them have already checked out. The Hurricanes once again had a balanced scoring attack and they overwhelmed the hapless Thrashers, 6-3.
After giving up the initial goal of the game, Carolina completely dominated Atlanta the rest of the 1st period, out-shooting them 14-3. Scott Walker and Ryan Bayda both had tallies for the Canes in that opening period making the score 2-1, but it could have been much worse as Kari Lehtonen had to make save after save to keep his team close.
The 2nd period started out much the same as Joe Corvo scored a powerplay goal early and then Erik Cole scored mid-way through the period. The Thrashers changed goalies and were able to muster another goal near the end of the period on a tally by Erik Christensen making the score 4-2 at the end of the period.
The third period was one of streaks as the Thrashers were finally able to generate some consistent pressure in the Carolina zone. After Eric Staal scored a controversial goal, Ilya Kovalchuk netted one for Atlanta. Staal closed out the scoring on an empty netter, (that didn’t count as an empty netter), as “Moose” Hedberg was attempting to get to the bench when Frank Kaberle stole the puck and fed Staal for the final tally.
Staal’s first goal of the period came after Hedberg had tried to freeze the puck, but for whatever reason the ref told him to move it. Shortly after the confused goalie released the puck, Staal took possession of it and tried to feed it to someone in front of the net, only to have it bounce off of a Thrasher defenseman, and into the net. I’m not sure why the whistle wasn’t blown and neither was Don Waddell, who blew a gasket on the Atlanta bench. One had to feel a bit sorry for Waddell, who probably realized that not only was the game over at that point, but the season was over as well. This might be the last stand in Atlanta for the general manager and interim coach.
The win gives the Hurricanes 75 points and keeps their lead over the 2nd place Washington Capitals at 3 points. The Caps kept pace with a 3-1 win at Buffalo. After all the premature moaning and whining around the league about how the South(l)east Division wouldn’t have any teams with enough points to legitimately make it to the playoffs, the Canes and Caps are both making a strong case for themselves to play in the postseason.
Some brief observations…..
Each of the lines looked good for Carolina. The Aucoin-Walker-Bayda line dominated the opening period and scored the opening goals. The Staal-Cole-Ruutu line picked it up later in the game. The Cullen-Samsonov-Eaves line looked very good as well, but couldn’t get anything into the net. Patrick Eaves especially had some nice chances. The 4rth line wasn’t exactly outstanding, but they held their own and didn’t mess up.
Could this be a coming out party for Frantisek Kaberle? He played a solid defensive game and had a well-earned 3 assists.
Cam Ward could have played better, but he was like a rock late in the 3rd period when the Thrashers took their best chances and saved his most noteworthy work for near the end of the game.
The Canes hopped on a plane right after the game and returned home for tonight’s bout with the Minnesota Wild. I’ll have my pre-game post up after lunch.