The Following Is The First In A Series Of Game Recaps That Will Be Posted In The Coming Days Before I Get Fully Caught Up
Who would have thought that the Atlanta Thrashers would be on a six-game win streak? Certainly not me.
I just checked the papers and pigs aren’t flying, so this must be legit.
Kari Lehtonen stood on his head tonight to stonewall the high-powered offense of the Capitals. He was 1:15 away from getting his third shutout in five starts, but Eric Fehr slammed one home to play spoiler.
Colby Armstrong got the home team on the board halfway through the opening frame after Rich Peverley fended off several Caps players. Peverley made some nifty moves in the slot to get some space and rifled a backhander on goal. A goalmouth scramble ensued and Armstrong was able to find the puck and bury it for his 17th of the season.
Just over five minutes later, the Thrashers were set up on the powerplay and Slava Kozlov went to work in a big way.
Tom Poti fired a puck around the boards in an attempted clear, but Kozlov picked it off. After a give-and-go with Tobias Enstrom, Kozlov took a couple strides toward the net and ripped a wrister to the shelf over Theodore’s glove and off iron to put the Thrashers up 2-0. Theodore had no chance whatsoever to stop that laser.
The Thrashers had a 2-0 lead after one and never looked back.
Just over seven minutes into the second period, Alexander Semin tried to lead a shorthanded rush up ice, but lost control of the puck and Anssi Salmela picked it up and took off the other way.
Salmela entered the Caps zone and knifed his way into the slot and fired a low wrist shot around Shaone Morrison and by Theodore for a 3-0 lead. The goal was the first in the young career of Salmela.
The Thrashers weren’t done on the powerplay just yet.
Five minutes after Salmela’s goal, Enstrom strikes gold on a bomb from the point.
Kozlov and Enstrom pass the puck back and forth a couple times before Kozlov frees up Enstrom with a pass around the pressure of Brooks Laich.
Enstrom takes a couple strides toward the middle of the blueline and unloads a missile that found its way through traffic and to the back of the net for a 4-0 lead. The goal ended Theodore’s evening. He didn’t necessarily play poorly, but there’s no reason to leave him in to get shelled.
Most of the third period was spent in the Thrashers end with Lehtonen facing a shooting gallery. The Caps got 20 shots in the period to the Thrashers’ four. Yes, the Thrashers were outshot 20-4 in the final frame with a 4-0 lead. If Lehtonen didn’t stand tall, who knows how this would have turned out.
The final backbreaker for the Caps was seeing Eric Perrin get one of those four shots to find twine off a horrible turnover by Poti.
The Caps were trying to break out of the zone around the one-man pressure by the Thrashers. Poti tried a long pass out of the zone that Perrin picked off easily at the blueline and fired a shot on Simeon Varlamov who made the save, but left a juicy rebound.
Perrin pounced and buried it for the 5-0 lead to put a capper on the night’s performance. It would have been a perfect evening, if not for Fehr’s antics.
Milan Jurcina let one fly from the point that Lehtonen saved, but was unable to control the rebound. Fehr was able to get to the rebound, but didn’t get a whole lot on it. Lucky for him, he didn’t need to as he easily chipped it into the empty cage behind Lehtonen to break the shutout.
I would have liked to see the Thrashers play a little better team defense in this game. The Caps are not a team you want to let up off the mat. They are fully capable of scoring four goals in a period and had Lentonen not channeled Patrick Roy, they very well may have done so.
Alex Ovechkin decided to do most of his talking with his hits when he couldn’t put points on the board. I will say this, every time I see him play I respect him more and more. He gives 110% all the time and isn’t afraid to play the physical game at all.
The win is a franchise record sixth in a row and the Thrashers will put that streak on the line against the hottest team in the NHL tomorrow night on the road in Pittsburgh.
The Penguins are coming off a 6-4 comeback win against the Boston Bruins on Sunday and are looking to solidify their place in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
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Written by Casey Shea