Thrashers Power By The Sabres to Their Best Ever Start

Peter BojarinovAnalyst IOctober 18, 2009

A strong road effort on back-to-back games give the Atlanta Thrashers their best ever start in a season.

Last night, the Thrashers defeated the Buffalo Sabres in the HSBC arena by a score of four to two. Both teams playing on back-to-back nights were putting in their goaltending backups for the evening.

The Thrashers came out firing with eleven shots in the first ten minutes of the game. By that point in the game, they had already led by two goals. Their hired gun was on the loose tonight, Ilya was left open on much of the night and mainly in the first period.

Getting chance after chance, no.17’s first goal was on the power play, after a nice feed from Nik Antropov behind the net to the top of the opposite circle for Ilya. He potted his first of the night behind Patrick Lalime. The second just under two minutes later, after strong fore-checking from the top line, Antropov stole the puck to Bryan Little who would center the puck to an open Kovalchuk for the goal.

A turning point would come when sophomore Zack Bogosian made a hooking penalty at 12:17 in the first. During a strong Sabre power play, they had a few strong chances and Johan “Moose” Hedberg (the back up for the Thrashers) stopped all of them, and many in the night after that.

Finally near the mid point of the game, Clarke MacArthur’s blast seemed to find a hole in Hedberg to cut the lead in half; the Moose wished he’d have another chance on that one.

Just a few seconds later Derek Roy made a hooking penalty to give the best power play in the league another opportunity. This time the Sabres knew to cover the No.17 sniper that left others more room. It gave Tobias Enstrom room to fire a nice shot on net, where a waiting Todd White would put in the rebound.

In the final period Buffalo would turn on the pressure, for twenty shots. With less then 4 minutes in the game Antropov would receive a crosschecking penalty. On the ensuing power play for the Sabres, Drew Stafford would have room from the corner boards to skate to the front of the net, it gave him room to shoot in between Hedberg’s pads.

The Sabre fans went wild, until only a few seconds later.

Ex-Sabre Maxim Afinogenov, who was booed all night by the home team, gathered the puck in his own zone from Slava Kozlov. He then flew through the neutral zone, put an amazing deke by six foot eight Tyler Myers, then shouldered left and fired top right by Lalime, to silence the crowd.

The goal sealed the deal and sent fans packing. Sabres finished the night with 42 shots on the night, but can’t seem to beat Johan Hedberg, who is a lifetime 11-2-1 against Buffalo, which also gave the Sabres their first regulation loss of the season.

Atlanta is now 4-1 to start the season, which looks like a team on a mission. Next up Thrashers on Tuesday in Montreal.


BRIGHT STARS: Johan Hedberg, Ilya Kovalchuk, Nik Antropov, Slava Kozlov, and Maxim Afinogenov

DARK STARS: Zack Bogosian (again vital defensive mistakes, and not skating hard penalties)

BLUE COLLAR: Johan Hedberg, Ron Hainsey and Pavel Kubina (both with a good defensive game, and big blocked shots in the 3rd)