On a night where the Devils came out like a bat out of hell, the Thrashers pecked the Devils out by the end of the night.
An onslaught of offensive pressure from the Devils was all that was in the first period; Ondrej Pavelec had stopped all fifteen New Jersey shots. In scoring opportunities the period had finished with seven to zero for the Devils.
The second period slowly changed the game, as New Jersey knew it would take a lot on this night to beat Pavelec. Finally the score would break open, near the midway point of the game. Two quick long passes from Bryce Salvador to Jamie Langenbrunner to an open Travis Zajac, would give him plenty of room as he wristed a nice shot on the right side of Pavelec. The defense of Zack Bogosian and Tobias Enstrom were no where to be found on the play.
Another night, another turning point made by my favourite enforcer, Eric Boulton. I had a feeling he would fight right after that goal, and he almost did, it was the second shift after Zajac’s goal, and Boulton threw off the gloves. Andrew Peters then took a beating from Boulton on this night, which turned the game in Atlanta’s favour.
On the shift after the fight, the Thrashers were back in charge. By the end of the period they would lead in scoring chances and had almost double the number of shots of the Devils. Finally after a "too many men on the ice" penalty, the Devils had really awoken a sleeping giant. The Thrashers powerplay is one to reckon with this season.
On this opportunity, they posted Nik Antropov in front of Martin Brodeur, so he could barely see a thing, and then threw the puck around till it got to Maxim Afinogenov. He then found a lane and fired a nice low shot on net, and on the other side Rich Peverley found the loose puck and finished it into the net, to tie up the game.
To start the third, Atlanta would keep the pressure coming and would capitalize on every chance. Early in the period, Mark Popovic caught Evander Kane for the pass, and he would blister by the defense for a quick short side shot over Brodeur’s glove to take the lead for Atlanta.
Just two minutes later, Colin White would trip the six foot six inches Nik Antropov, which made it an easy call for the referees. On the entitled powerplay, Antropov was found again posted in front, Peverley would feed Antropov the puck, who then made a move towards the far post, and passed the puck back to Peverley. Rich would have a gapping short side for an easy goal, as Brodeur laid along the opposing side of the net. As the New Jersey commentators would both say “an intelligent and masterful play by Antropov”, there would be no chance for Brodeur to make the save.
The Devils would net a goal with less then seven minutes left in the game, Salvador would have the puck just in front of the Thrasher blueline, and untouched he was as he waited for his teammates to go on side. Kovalchuk would be the nearest to him, and did not apply any pressure or aggression on him to lose the puck. This enabled him to push the puck into the zone, where the puck bounced by the net, and Langenbrunner would tip the bouncer over to an open Zack Parise on the empty side of the net goal.
Two minutes later New Jersey would have a power-play on a penalty against Zack Bogosian for hooking. The Devils would try to pressure, but Atlanta’s defense would thwart any chance of a comeback by taking the puck up the ice, putting three shots on Brodeur and Chris Thorburn would empty it into the net behind a scrambled Brodeur, for a short-handed goal.
All in all, the Thrashers withstood the counter-attack of the Devils, the Thrasher special teams were at the top of their game, and Ondrej Pavelec might have had his best game of this early season.
The Thrashers will have to work on not allowing as many shots or opportunities, but their offense still is clicking.
BRIGHT STARS: Evander Kane, Ondrej Pavelec, Nik Antropov
DARK STARS: Zack Bogosian (weak penalties), Ilya Kovalchuk (non-factor in the offensive zone tonight, and only showed his defensive weaknesses)
BLUE COLLAR: Rich Peverley (hard working goals), Eric Boulton (another well timed fight), Tobias Enstrom, Pavel Kubina, Ron Hainsey, Chris Thorburn, and Ondrej Pavelec (great job on the penalty kill by all five)