Bad Bounces, Loss of Kovalchuk Leads Atlanta Thrashers to a Loss

Peter BojarinovAnalyst IOctober 25, 2009

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 21:  Ilya Kovalchuk #17 of the Atlanta Thrashers against the Carolina Hurricanes during a preseason game at Philips Arena on September 21, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Tonight the Atlanta Thrashers played host to the San Jose Sharks in Phillips Arena. After a tough outing by Ondrej Pavelec last game against the Capitals, coach John Anderson had Johan Hedberg starting.

It wasn’t good early as the top line scored within the first minute of the game. A weird bounce and a quick dump of the puck in front of the net from Ryan Vesce (who’s filled in well on the top line) gave a loose gift to Joe Thornton, who finished into the net.

Not even ten minutes into the game, a sore captain Ilya Kovalchuk limps off the ice, after an apparent twisted knee the superstar took him out of the rest of the game. It’s a tough loss for the Thrashers, as Kovalchuk already leads the league in goals with nine.

It took abit of energy out of his team as the Thrashers were looked out of it for the next few shifts, and then Anssi Salmela committed a hooking penalty. On the ensuing powerplay, Patrick Marleau who was a warrior on the ice tonight took a hard shot on net.

Dany Heatley would find the loose puck by Hedberg and empty it into the net.
To start the second period, a Ron Hainsey loose shot would deflect off his teammates Marty Reasoner’s skate and back into their own net, to give the Sharks a huge three to nothing lead.

But a hard working Thrasher team would keep their pressure going. About three minutes later a miscue by the Sharks would give Todd White the puck just in front of their zone. White would enter the zone, and fire a shot by Evgeni Nabokov on the great opportunity.

San Jose would bring the lead back to three again midway into the game on a strong wrist shot from Marleau, who finished the solid night with two goals and an assist as well as finishing Hedberg’s night. Ondrej Pavelec would complete the rest of the game, that's back-to-back outings for the Thrashers where they had to switch goalies for having sub par starts.

The rest of the game seemed like Atlanta put a more sense of urgency into their game. The youthful Thrasher team would make chance after chance, and it would pay off by the end of the period. On a strong Atlanta powerplay, Nik Antropov would dish a perfect cross-ice pass over to Rich Peverley, who would fire a bullet by Nabokov to cut the lead in half.

To start the third, Evander Kane getting more ice time on top line with Ilya out, scored a wrister by Nabokov. It brought the lead to only one.

San Jose seemed to rely more on Nabokov the rest of the night as the Thrashers continued the onslaught, but it wouldn’t matter, as time would run out.

Another close one, other then another bad bounce it was a strong effort by the Thrashers. The youngsters were a positive with Kovalchuk out; the offence was still clicking and almost brought the team back into the game. Thrashers have to get better goaltending and penalty killing then the last two games to have a better chance to win.


BRIGHT STARS: Zack Bogosian, Evander Kane, Rich Peverley

DARK STARS: Johan Hedberg, Marty Reasoner

BLUE COLLAR: Pavel Kubina, Zack Bogosian (both brought the puck out of the zone well, and had a solid defensive game)