Thrashers-Capitals: The Russian Roulette Is Not Enough For Atlanta

Peter BojarinovAnalyst IOctober 22, 2009

ATLANTA - OCTOBER 22:  Ilya Kovalchuk #17 of the Atlanta Thrashers celebrates with the bench after scoring a goal against the Washington Capitals at Philips Arena on October 22, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Tonight the Washington Capitals were on the road in Phillips Arena to face off against their divisional rivals, the Atlanta Thrashers.

Atlanta was coming off its tough overtime loss—only scoring one goal in the game in Montreal—and Coach John Anderson decided it was time to add some offensive punch.

Anderson invented the new Russian Roulette line, of Ilya Kovalchuk, Nik Antropov, and Maxim Afinogenov. A proper name given the fact they can produce plenty of offense, yet they're lacking in the turnover and back checking department thanks to the two wingers.

In a night full of offense, the turning point in the game came near the midway point of the game with the game tied two apiece.

Jeff Schultz skipped a dump shot along the ice from his own red line, which bounced at least five times until it jumped right over the left pad of Ondrej Pavelec.

Less then a minute and a half after that, two more goals had gone by the Thrasher goaltender.

A stunned Phillips Arena went quiet, the score now 5-2. Coach John Anderson pulled a lost Pavelec for Johan Hedberg for the remaining of the game.

Atlanta scratched and clawed its way almost back with tons of pressure. They even got a five-on-three powerplay to score late.

They brought the deficit back to one with a late goal on a shot from No. 17.

With Hedberg still out for the extra man, Atlanta attacked even more so, with three close shots from Afinogenov down low, two saves from Sergei Varlamov, and with the third going over the net.

The Capitals won 5-4.

It was a game where both starting goalies didn’t look like they should be playing, only watching. They had their share of bad goals.

In the micro story of the game, Kovalchuk had won the battle between him and his Russian countryman.

Alexander Ovechkin was held off the score sheet, and Ilya had potted two big goals while playing with his new line. Ovechkin got the last laugh, obviously, with the big win for his team. Round two between these two teams is only a week away, next Thursday night.

I believe you can still take many positives from this game.

Though Pavelec looked puzzled, the top line showed much pomp and circumstance, and the special teams looked sharp again.

As a fan, I can say it was an outstanding game to watch with many great offensive moves and scoring chances throughout the contest.


BRIGHT STARS: Russian Roulette line, Zack Bogosian.

DARK STARS: Ondrej Pavelec, Christoph Schubert

BLUE COLLAR: Ron Hainsey and Rich Peverley (Both a strong night on the PK)